Royal Dutch Shell Group .com

Paper by Alfred Donovan prepared for presentation at the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS International, USA) Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, held on 26/27 June 2004










My name is Alfred Donovan. I am honoured to have been invited to write a paper concerning my dealings with Shell for presentation at the above Convention.


I am neither an academic nor an expert on Ogoniland.  I do however possess some basic commonsense and a high degree of determination - some would say an obsessive streak, especially when faced with blatant injustice. So I can empathize with the cause of the Ogoni people. I am an 87 year old war pensioner. I fought as a non-commissioned officer in the Burma Campaign in the Second World War, some 60 years ago.


For over a decade I have been involved in more battles, this time not against an evil axis of rogue nations, but the scourge of the modern day, an evil multinational goliath; in my case (and yours) the Royal Dutch Shell Group.


That does not mean that everyone who works for Shell is evil: “Shell” is of course just a name. It is Shell senior management that are responsible for Shell’s crimes and misdeeds which has brought shame and infamy on a once proud name. 


Royal Dutch Shell has over 100,000 employees in over 100 Countries.  Most are no doubt honest, hard working individuals who must be extremely disappointed at the mendacious actions of Shell management, which in the last decade, has been to blame for Shell’s reputation disappearing faster than its oil reserves. Every large organisation is bound to have its share of rotten apples. Unfortunately in Shell’s case, most of them seem to have risen to the top of the management pile.


It is, as I have stated, their unethical actions and ruthless policies which have brought the multinational into global notoriety and disrepute.


Not everything Shell does is evil: Two examples of positive initiatives by Shell immediately come to mind. Shell is at the forefront of developing and researching renewable sources of energy in an energy hungry world; a world in which finite reserves of oil and gas are being consumed at an ever increasing and reckless pace.  In the United Kingdom, Shell has, to its credit, set up an organisation to promote and encourage new businesses – Shell Livewire. At this point I must take a deep breath. It’s a long time since I’ve said anything positive about Shell and it’s rather disconcerting! However, the positive aspects are far outweighed by the negative side of this multinational.


Shell is deeply in the mire at the moment. The date of your convention is coincidentally taking place just two days before Shell’s crisis charged Annual General Meetings being held simultaneously in London for Shell Transport and in The Hague for Royal Dutch Petroleum; the two company’s which together own the Royal Dutch Shell Group.


I operate a website which provides the world’s most comprehensive news and information portal focused on the Royal Dutch Shell Group. It is through the website that NUOS contacted me.  It is a beacon for current and former Shell employees/stakeholders and other parties who have a grievance against Shell. I had no idea when the site went live in January that 2004 would prove to be such a cataclysmic year for Shell and its reputation.


In this connection, I recently supplied to the Financial Times a leaked Shell internal document which came into my hands via the Shell2004 website from a Shell whistleblower. The FT published on 18 June 2004 a whole page story based on the document, which was in fact the speech given by Jerome van der Veer, the Group Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, at a crisis meeting in Texas on 26 May 2004 of 400 Shell senior managers from around the globe.  In his speech, Mr Van der Veer confessed in relation to the reserves scandal: “I myself feel shocked, dismayed and ashamed at what has happened…”  That tells us how weak Shell is at the moment. It will remain a wounded beast for some time with so many class actions law suits pending, including the one reluctantly brought on behalf of the Ogoni people.


Shell still pretends that it is following the strictures of its ethical code, the STATEMENT OF GENERAL BUSINESS PRINCIPLES pledging honesty, integrity and transparency in all of its dealings, while it actually engages in deceit and cover-up, even hiding crucial information from Shell shareholders. 


Shell management’s shameless capacity to solemnly promise one thing and do another, is breathtaking. This is what Dr John Huong, a former Shell geologist for nearly 30 years, has aptly described as a “con-artist mentality at Shell”. They seem to think that Shell shareholders and the public are simple minded folk who can be treated accordingly.


Let me give you an example. Just a matter of days ago Shell circulated to its shareholders “The Shell Report 2003”. A section on page 25 is devoted to Shell’s reputation. Alongside the hype about survey results carried out in 2003, is an endorsement of Shell’s ethical policies by “Transparency International” –which promotes business ethics and, as its name implies, “transparency”. The organisation’s endorsement was within the stated context of the so-called “Panels of external experts”, who “gave their independent views of how well Shell has performed.” All very impressive! What is not disclosed is that Mr George Moody-Stuart, an Executive Committee member of the organisation (and its former Chairman) is the brother of Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, a current director of Shell Transport And Trading Company plc (and a former Group Chairman of Shell). Is it possible that Shell shareholders would be less impressed about the ethics endorsement if they knew about that undeclared connection?




My relationship with Shell stretches back over 45 years when I was in the garage/gasoline retailing trade and Shell was a supplier. In those days you could be sure of Shell.


In 1979, my son John and I founded a sales promotion agency, Don Marketing. Shell soon became a client on an international basis. We created some of the most successful promotions in the history of gasoline marketing. We supplied multi-million dollar campaigns conducted in numerous Countries around the globe. For example, a Star Trek themed instant win game in association with Paramount Pictures in which 100 million game pieces were distributed. It involved a budget of £4.5 million ($8 million US dollars approx). This was but one of many innovative promotions which put Shell's marketing activities miles ahead of its rivals.


This mutually beneficial relationship continued until 1994 when Shell management decided that it could steal the ideas we put forward in strictest confidence and develop and use them without paying us, or indeed even giving us any recognition for our award winning creativity. 

While we were discussing with Shell a Nintendo themed promotion they had developed and launched based on a proposal we had put forward in strictest confidence, Shell was secretly producing another three Don Marketing promotions, all based on our confidential proposals. It was an incredible shock to be faced with such shameless conduct. This was when we realised that Shell management had fundamentally changed its ethical policies, and not for the better.


A Shell lawyer actually sent us a letter threatening to make the Nintendo litigation “drawn out and difficult”.  Shell then ruthlessly pursued a policy of trying to drain the resources of a financially weaker opponent.


My son and I decided that we would fight these dreadful people.


Between 1994 and 1999 we sued Shell six times in the UK High Court. Four times for breach of confidence (stealing our ideas) and twice for libel. We have never lost an action against Shell and were paid £260,000 in compensation (about £500,000 US dollars) plus costs for the first three breach of confidence actions. We also received the benefit of a package worth £125,000. That was the positive side.


Because the litigation took many years and demanded a huge commitment in time and energy, our business withered away and eventually came to an untimely end. Furthermore, compensation from the earlier wins was ploughed back into the last litigation which ended up in a three week trial – the “SMART” litigation.  This related to our confidential proposal to Shell for a multi-retailer loyalty card scheme using a high-technology SMART card.


Shell used every dirty trick in its extensive arsenal to undermine our claim. Let me make it plain. Litigation against Shell is not for the faint hearted. Shell believes in a “no holds barred” approach. In fact, we faced an avalanche of threats from Shell management and their army of lawyers. When that strategy did not work, Shell brought in undercover agents. One was caught red handed illegally checking mail at our offices. He gave false information and used false documents.


Then all hell broke lose. Our key witnesses, our solicitor and my family and I were besieged by undercover agents. Houses were burgled, documents were examined, and threats were made. All of this activity occurred in the run up to the SMART trial. 

Because the first agent had been unmasked, we managed to corner Shell in to admitting his activities. Shell then warned us that other agents were involved in our case. This was presumably designed to frighten us.  However, they denied any knowledge of the burglaries and intimidation.




Shell had all the advantages on the litigation front: an army of lawyers backed-up with unlimited resources (including the availability of what was effectively an in-house nest of spies).  From an early stage we decided to open a second front separate from the litigation using our strengths – our creative abilities and our determination. We mounted a hard hitting multifaceted, peaceful, and entirely legal campaign against Shell, the likes of which Shell had never seen before.


My son and I founded the Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group. The inspiration for the name arose from an article in the September 1994 issue of the Shell "Chairman's Bulletin" sent to Shell shareholders, which claimed a culture of "corporate conscience" at Shell. Our membership included Shell suppliers, fellow Shell shareholders and Shell retailers – nearly 15% of all Shell UK retailers joined the pressure group.


Our members picketed Shell HQ buildings in London and in The Hague and distributed leaflets. Several hundred Shell retailers participated in our “business ethic” surveys about Shell. We published the results in successive monthly whole page notices in the UK gasoline retailing trade press. All responses were opened under the supervision of an independent solicitor who provided an Affidavit verifying the results, which were devastatingly bad for Shell e.g.


89% of respondents said that they would not recommend any petrol retailer considering a brand change to switch to Shell. 


75% of the Shell stations that participated were of the opinion that Shell management was unethical, incompetent, and greedy. 


Shell never did take up our challenge to commission and publish the results of independent research, using precisely the same questions and offering respondents GUARANTEED anonymity.  I believe they realised that although unpalatable, the results we published were accurate.

We also received many letters from Shell stations complaining bitterly about the business practices of Shell. Here is a selection of quotes from some of the letters: -


“Extremely bad company”


“I believe the current regime is totally immoral”


“We have serious concerns about Shell’s ethical conduct”.


“The fickle nature and lack of honour within our negotiations were a shock to ourselves coming from a large company…  We would hope this letter may help you and serve as a warning to others contemplating any form of activity with this company”.


“You are not alone in being steamrollered by this company”.


It is true to say that we did of necessity use the pressure group to our personal advantage, but on the other hand, my son John and I set it up, run it on a day-to-day basis and funded all of the activities. We neither sought nor received a penny from anyone else.


John and I knew that certain people at Shell UK were absolutely incensed at our activities and we wondered how they would hit back. We soon got the answer.  On 17th March 1995, Shell UK circulated to the media a press statement headed: “DON MARKETING LIMITED –V- SHELL UK LIMITED. Its ferocious content shows just how livid Shell management was about our legal claims and our campaigning activity. 


This is what it said: -


During the past few months Mr John Donovan, the Managing Director of Don Marketing Limited, and his father, Mr Alfred Donovan, have conducted a publicity campaign connected with legal actions which Don Marketing has initiated against Shell U.K. Limited. Shell believes the courts are the proper forum for a commercial dispute of this kind, and wishes to see matters resolved there. However, due to the growing number of untrue and often offensive allegations being made about Shell in the campaign, the company feels it is appropriate to comment more fully.


Shell U.K. Limited is defending legal actions which allege that Shell UK wrongfully used two forecourt promotions – ‘Nintendo’ and ‘Now Showing’ – developed by Don Marketing without its consent. The allegation is untrue.  Don Marketing has no case and the legal actions are being strenuously defended. Shell is always anxious to resolve disputes amicably where possible but in this case sees no alternative but to allow the litigation to take its course. 


Mr Donovan appears to have little faith in his company’s claims. Since initiating legal proceedings he and his father have adopted the unusual course of mounting a publicity campaign to ventilate allegations against Shell and members of its staff. Mr Donovan’s father has recently founded what he calls a ‘Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group’ to promote this campaign. 


Mr Donovan and his father have written to the directors of Shell UK and its parent companies stating that they plan to outline the allegations against Shell and its staff to the company’s shareholders, the President of the Board of Trade, a number of publications and to ‘Internet’ users. They have also claimed that they intend to write to media and shareholders calling for the resignation of senior Shell managers, allege that they plan to write a book, have sent publicity material to several Shell locations in the UK and have attempted to assemble negative views of Shell from some retailers. Shell believes these actions are an attempt to sully Shell’s reputation with sensationalist allegations, in the hope that the company may be coerced into settling false claims.


Don Marketing and the so called pressure group have repeatedly attempted to goad Shell into issuing proceedings against them for what they are doing. Shell has to date declined to do so. Shell believes that the invitation to take legal action has been made merely to generate publicity and to substantiate Mr Donovan’s false assertion that Shell is a large company oppressing a small trader. Shell believes that any libel proceedings it brought would be likely to succeed. However, it doubts that Don Marketing and the so called pressure group would have the funds to pay Shell’s costs and the compensation it would be awarded. 


Shell would be in breach of its obligations to shareholders if it initiated legal actions, failed to defend itself, or participated in actions in which it would lose money even if successful. Shell will therefore be applying to the court for Security for Costs in the existing legal actions brought by Don Marketing, in order to ensure that Don Marketing can pay Shell’s legal expenses in the event – which Shell believes likely – that Don Marketing’s claims will fail in court. 


Shell UK Media Relations, March 17, 1995


We received a leaked copy of the press release and immediately sued Shell for libel. We received a package deal from Shell worth £125,000 (approximately $225,000 US dollars) to withdraw the libel action. Shell ultimately settled the two relevant High Court Actions for £200,000 ($360,000 approx) plus costs. Shell also made admissions of wrongdoing both verbally and in writing including an unsolicited letter of apology from Shell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chris Fay. So much for the allegations that our claims were bogus!


The £200,000 settlement proved to be a temporary respite because Shell subsequently launched the SMART scheme and battle recommenced on all fronts.  The Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group evolved into the Shell Shareholders Organisation.  We once again arranged for leaflets to be distributed at Shell’s London HQ buildings. We sent letters far and wide.


On 1st March 1999, I wrote to Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands warning her of a culture of deception and cover-up deeply ingrained at the highest levels of Shell”.  According to news reports, Her Majesty is one of the largest shareholders in Royal Dutch Petroleum and consequently has suffered substantial losses as a result of the reserves debacle. She may therefore regret ignoring my letter which turned out to be 100% accurate.  


We aimed much of our fire directly at Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, the Group Chairman who had repeatedly refused to intervene.  On one occasion, he responded personally with written threats on behalf of Shell. The acrimony resulted in the extraordinary personal intervention of his wife, Lady Judy Moody Stuart, without her husbands’ knowledge or consent.  I have the relevant correspondence.


The atmosphere became so heated that Shell displayed posters in the lobbies of its London HQ buildings making yet more false allegations against my son and I.  This was after they had settled our earlier claims and given us the £125,000 settlement package in respect of the earlier false accusations (made in the March 1995 press release). So this time my son sued them for libel. It was surreal.


The Ogoni class action litigation against Shell is very wisely being brought in the US Courts where the case will be decided by a jury rather than a Judge. Shell’s influence reaches far and wide, so a jury trial is preferable. Commonsense suggests that it is harder to influence an entire jury of ordinary mortals than one often egotistical lawyer/Judge who is likely to me a fully paid member of the “establishment” and therefore more sympathetic in any event to the high and mighty. A jury by contrast is more likely to be sympathetic to “David” than to a multinational “Goliath”. Furthermore a Judge will be guided strictly by the laws of the land, even if that runs counter to natural justice. For all these reasons, we would have much preferred a jury trial, but it is not available for normal civil High Court litigation in the UK.




We were also concerned that a Judge would frown on our tactics of running a publicity campaign in tandem with the litigation and this indeed proved to be the case. The fact that our activities were peaceful and legal did not appear to matter to the trial Judge, Mr Justice Laddie.


The Judge allowed Shell’s barrister, Mr Geoffrey Hobbs QC to engage in deliberate pre-planned deception and subterfuge in an attempt to entrap my son into admitting a criminal offence. This was yet another false accusation from Shell. I believe this was entirely unfair and improper conduct.


Three weeks into the SMART trial my son agreed a compromise settlement because our witnesses were so frightened that one had retracted evidence he had previously agreed to give and another gave a faltering performance when being cross-examined by Shell’s barrister. This witness actually brought up the subject of the burglary carried out at his home in the run up to the trial. Shell’s barrister immediately dropped his line of questioning like a hot potato.  


Another potential key witness, a former Shell manager who had recorded his low regard for Shell in a letter on Shell heading sent to my son, was too frightened to give any evidence. He was concerned that Shell would find a way to stop his pension. The concept of a fair trial had been completed undermined by the witness intimidation. Another factor was that the legal costs had risen to over £1 million pounds.


A so-called “joint” press release was issued by Shell. It did not reflect the true settlement terms. The SMART action and the second libel action were withdrawn. Shell dropped its Counterclaims and paid my son’s legal costs. My son also received a modest payment from the settlement.  However, in view of the time and money we had both invested it was far from a satisfactory outcome.


A link with the Moody-Stuart family did not emerge until after the end of trial, when the Judge Mr Justice Laddie (Sir Hugh Laddie QC) had made unnecessary comments which were clearly biased in favour of Shell. It turned out that the Judge had strong connections with a London law chambers at which Tom Moody-Stuart, the son of Sir Mark and Lady Judy Moody-Stuart was in practice as a barrister.


The Judge, who to the best of my knowledge is a man of the highest repute, has refused to indicate whether he knew Tom Moody-Stuart at the time of the trial. If he did, then he should have recused himself from hearing the case. I have recently written to the UK Chief Justice/Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, seeking answers to this and other questions relating to the Judges actions during the trial.  




The Police did investigate the various sinister events which preceded the trial.  However neither we nor the Police knew that Shell had an extremely close association with a private spy firm set up by former MI6 secret agents (MI6 of James Bond fame). 


Shell directors/shareholders were also directors/shareholders in the spy firm, Hakluyt, whose stock in trade is deception, trickery, betrayal, fabrication, fraud and infiltration by its undercover agents; not at all in keeping with Shell’s claimed ethical code. Shell directors were also the Chairman and President of Hakluyt, its ultimate spymasters. A host of titled people, Lords and Sirs, are involved with Hakluyt either as directors/shareholders or are connected with the private spy firm in other ways. Their names are like a role call of the British Establishment; a titled mafia.


Hakluyt also has high level contacts/associates on an international basis, including for example, Dr Henry Kissinger, the renowned former US Secretary of State. Hakluyt is like a secret society of the privileged elite, whose tentacles reach into the UK military, the secret service, government ministers, senior politicians, Whitehall mandarins, industry leaders, senior lawyers and even into The Church of England. It is an extraordinary situation of which the UK public seems blissfully unaware.      


Hakluyt often uses serving secret service agents who work for it on a freelance basis. Shell/Hakluyt undercover agents have been used against NGO’s campaigning against Shell including Greenpeace, The Body Shop and other worthy non government organisations.


In case readers of this paper are unaware, Shell also turned to Hakluyt for assistance when Shell’s reputation came under fire in Nigeria. Shell has admitted deploying an undercover operative in Nigeria; code name “CAMUS”, a serving German Secret Agent, whose real name is Manfred Schlickenrieder. There are a number of published accounts of his treacherous activities in Nigeria and in other Countries against Shell’s perceived enemies, which was basically any organisation campaigning against Shell’s unscrupulous conduct. To find the articles just search “Manfred Schlickenrieder Nigeria” on Google.


I have included brief extracts below from two such publications:-


Shell International turned to Hakluyt for help when the oil conglomerate's reputation came under fire during the Brent Spar PR crisis and the Nigerian government's execution of writer-activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.  Using his cover as a filmmaker, Schlickenrieder traveled around Europe, interviewing on film a broad spectrum of people campaigning for Nigeria's Ogoni people.

Schlickenrieder's cover was blown when the Swiss action group Revolutionaire Aufbau began to distrust him. Its investigation uncovered a large pile of documents, many of which were put online at the beginning of 2000 ( documents proved that Schlickenrieder was on the payroll of Hakluyt & Company Ltd., a London-based "business intelligence bureau" linked closely to MI6, the British foreign intelligence service.”




“Schlickenrieder continued working for Hakluyt until 1999. He made a film on Shell in Nigeria called Business as Usual: the Arrogance of Power, during which he interviewed friends of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nobel prize nominee, who was hanged by the military regime in 1995 after leading a campaign against oil exploration.”


Source: Sunday Times Front Page Story - 17 June 2001


The degree of the Shell’s past close association with the sinister Hakluyt spy firm, with a number of common directors and shareholders, has for some unknown reason, not yet been picked up by the news media.


I have in fact been in direct correspondence with one of Hakluyt’s founders, Mr Christopher James who is a former member of the Special Air Service and a former (or current) MI6 officer. MI6 is a section of the British Secret Service. Many UK Members of Parliament believe that Hakluyt is a front for MI6. The relevant correspondence with him and the UK Intelligence and Security Committee, which has official oversight over the UK security services, is published on As can be seen from the various correspondence it is all clouded in secrecy. 


Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Sir Philip Watts both worked in Nigeria for Shell. Both went on to become Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, first Sir Mark and then Sir Philip (before he was forced to resign because of the reserves scandal). Sir Philip was accused in a major article published in the “Mail on Sunday” on 4 April 2004 of helping to organise and pay for a virtual private army of 1400 Police spies in the oil rich deltas of Nigeria. This article apparently related to the law suit commenced against Shell in the USA in September 2002.




During the course of our litigation with Shell we found in the mountain of documents that Shell supplied to us as part of the litigation process, evidence of how Shell management had carried out a dishonest tender process for the SMART contract. Companies were deliberately cheated and tricked by Shell. The contract was awarded in shady circumstances to a company that was not even in the tendering process. We gave this information to every Shell director including Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Sir Philip Watts and Maarten van den Bergh. They ignored the evidence and the relevant managers remained employed by Shell. This again showed a complete disregard of the pledges contained in Shell’s STATEMENT OF GENERAL BUSINESS PRINCIPLES.




I was stationed in Palestine in the 1930’s. I regret to say that the Arabs were treated with distain and generally viewed as being second class citizens in their own Countries. How things have changed. The Arabs were sitting on top of the worlds largest oil reserves. Quite correctly, citizens in the oil rich Arab nations have benefited from their own natural resources and are now among the wealthiest people in the world. They have considerable power, influence and respect.


It is impossible to reconcile that situation with what has happened in Nigeria where the population has been oppressed and exploited by Shell and successive Nigerian regimes and Ogoniland has been subjected to long term ecological degradation. While the Ogoni people sit on top of oil fields, but remain abysmally poor, Sir Philip Watts sits on an $18 million (US dollar) pension pot. It is simply obscene and indefensible. 


After yet another document meant for consumption solely by Shell management was leaked to the press in mid June, Shell was forced to admit that its actions in Nigeria fed “a vicious cycle of violence and corruption”


Under the circumstances, it speaks volumes for the Ogoni people that YOU have not resorted to violence, but are pursuing a legal peaceful campaign to right a monumental injustice.




If your strategy is to simply let the litigation proceed then your lawyers will advise on how best to proceed. My son and I would supply similar fact evidence if called to do so.


If you wish to follow a twin track approach by also campaigning against Shell then I can offer some advice.


BUY SHARES IN SHELL: If you have not yet done so, I strongly recommend that you buy shares in Shell; the minimum number needed to qualify for attendance at the Shell AGM’s. In our case, it was one share per person. This will allow one of your articulate members to publicly put a question to the Shell Chairman in the AGM Question and Answer session which takes place in the presence of several hundred shareholders and the media. The more Ogoni representatives are present, the more likely one of you will be able to ask a question. It is wise to arrive early so that you can obtain seats towards the front of the conference hall. The first two or three rows are normally reserved for Shell personnel.


After the formal session has ended, Shell provides a lavish free buffet – I did say that not everything Shell does is evil…  The Shell Chairman and other senior management figures then mingle with shareholders. Consequently Ogoni representatives would be able to talk personally to the Chairman in a relaxed atmosphere. We made more progress by chatting informally to a Chairman of Shell Transport than by following any of the other avenues we had pursued.


DISTRIBUTE LEAFLETS AT SHELL HQ BUILDINGS: We embarrassed and demoralised Shell management by having two people permanently stationed outside Shell’s London HQ handing out leaflets. Such activity is perfectly legal in the UK (and in the Netherlands) provided the leaflet distributors do not impede anyone or position themselves on Shell property. Shell knew that visitors to their offices would receive a leaflet containing a strong indictment of Shell’s behaviour but could do nothing because what we were saying was true. This activity played an important role in bringing legal peaceful pressure to bear on Shell management. We changed the content of the leaflets every week to keep them topical so that we maintained interest. We also had leaflets distributed outside the HQ of Royal Dutch Petroleum in The Hague. Many Shell employees, especially in The Hague, were friendly and encouraging.  


If it is difficult to organise a roster system for Ogoni supporters in London and The Hague to issue leaflets on a full time basis, then perhaps it would be possible to do so when Shell staff are leaving or entering the buildings at peak times e.g. arriving for work.


The Internet has of course also provided an invaluable facility and my current website is drawing considerable attention from Shell employees from around the globe and other parties interested in Shell. I have made pages available to the NUOS International and put in a link to your own website.


I have mentioned some of the main elements in our campaigning against Shell. Full details can be found on




I note that Shell has in the last few days been forced by major investors to disclose the membership of a steering group looking at Shell governance reforms, including the possibility of merging Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport.  As a result, we now know that Mr Maarten van den Bergh, who is still a Shell director and one of the individuals named in the US Class Action law suits alleging fraud and misrepresentation, is a member of the steering group. He is one of the gentlemen who ignored irrefutable documentary evidence of corrupt/dishonest practices at Shell. Thus his inclusion suggests that Shell still believes it can fool and mislead its shareholders.


Shell should have got rid of every director tainted to the least extent by the past scandals, so that Shell could have a fresh start. Instead it has retained directors deeply implicated in past misdeeds. The relevant individuals, Maarten van den Bergh, Jeroem van der Veer, Malcolm Brinded, Mark Moody-Stuart etc brazenly ignore serious claims and allegations being made against Shell.


They routinely hide behind a wall of Shell lawyers knowing that most individuals/opponents do not have deep enough pockets, nor the courage needed to take on a multinational goliath. I intend to make such a commotion in the coming weeks and months that hopefully these remaining rotten apples will be sent packing.


Amazingly, as I finalise this paper on 24 June, Shell has announced the name of its so-called NEW Chief Financial Officer and Group Managing Director, Mr Peter Voser. In fact Mr Voser is a Shell veteran of two decades who only left the group in 2002.  Consequently the Financial Times is already asking Shell if Mr Voser had any involvement in the reserves scandal. In a world of several billions humans beings why could Shell not have chosen someone genuinely new, who could not possibility be tainted by past misdeeds? Have they still got something to hide? Is this why they needed someone steeped in their corporate culture of deception and cover-up?  




It is a really daunting task to sue Shell. However, if an old worn out man like me, aided by nothing more than a laptop and a website can still be such a formidable thorn in Shell’s side, that shows what can be done by bright young articulate individuals who have a far greater cause to fight for – justice for the entire Ogoni people


Shell is in a weakened state and the time has never been better to extract justice at long last from this rogue multinational goliath on behalf of your people.


May God Bless Your Peaceful and Righteous Fight for Justice 


Alfred Donovan

26 June 2004




I mentioned in connection with litigation involving Shell that "Shell’s influence reaches far and wide..."

Two examples come to mind. One of Shell's key witnesses in the SMART trial was Mr Stuart Carson, a former Shell manager (and subsequently Marketing Director of the High Street electrical store group, Dixon's). However, at the time when he gave evidence on Shell's behalf by way of a Witness Statement, and under oath in the witness box, Mr Carson worked for Price Waterhouse Cooper, Shell auditors, who are paid millions by Shell. Several other  witnesses for Shell were directors/employees of their promotions agency, Option One, with whom Mr Lazenby, the Shell manager at the heart of all of our problems with Shell, had a personal relationship. Mr Lazenby passed on our ideas to Option One for them to develop on Shell's behalf. Hence they were not entirely impartial witnesses.

My question about a possible conflict of interest relating to the trial Judge, Mr Justice Laddie and Mr Tom Moody-Stuart, the barrister son of Shell's then Group Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, remains answered. It is not a question of either individual doing anything improper. They are both gentleman of the highest reputation. But it is possible for a persons judgement to be swayed subconsciously by friendship or a professional relationship. In this connection I have reprinted below a copy of a self-explanatory email that I sent to Mr Tom Moody-Stuart.     


Dear Mr Tom Moody-Stuart

As you may be aware, I have been in correspondence with Shell Legal Director, Mr Richard Wiseman in his capacity as UK General Counsel of Shell International Limited. He has kindly circulated my draft manuscript to various interested parties including the following:-

Sir Philip Watts, Group Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell Group

Mr Malcolm Brinded, Group Managing Director, Royal Dutch Shell Group

Mr Steve Miller, Former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Shell Oil USA

Mr Clive Mather, Chairman, Shell UK Limited

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Director, Shell Transport and Trading Co plc

Mr Andrew Lazenby, former Shell UK Limited Promotions Manager

D J Freeman (Shell UK solicitors)

Those parties named above who are mentioned in the manuscript have been invited via Mr Wiseman to let me have any comments they may wish to make by 9th December 2002 on the basis that I would then carefully consider them. After Mr Wiseman raised the matter, I offered via Mr Peter Smith on 28 November 2002 to supply a complete copy of the manuscript to Mr Justice Laddie on the same basis.

Mr Wiseman also notified me on 29 November that your father, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, had asked him to send you a copy and that he had supplied it because he had my permission to do so (having previously raised the question with me).

I am aware that Mr Justice Laddie had an ongoing connection/association with your chambers (his former chambers) and has co-authored a legal text book with your colleagues at 8 New Square. I would like to know if that association extended to you personally. If you are able to confirm that you had no existing contact professional or otherwise with Mr Justice Laddie and never discussed the case with him or colleagues, then I will make that absolutely plain in a revised manuscript.

Even if Mr Justice Laddie had forgotten any connection/association then he would surely have realised this when he saw the letter from your mother at an early stage in the trial and/or one of the many references in documentary evidence to your father. "Moody-Stuart" is obviously a rare and distinctive surname and consequently instantly recognisable. When the name first came to the attention of Mr Justice Laddie it would surely have rung immediate alarm bells in terms of a potential conflict of interest if he did know you at that time. This is why I have assumed for the purpose of the draft manuscript that this could not have been the case, bearing in mind how scrupulous Mr Justice Laddie was in declaring his participation in the Smart scheme.

I would however like to obtain confirmation so that it can be accurately stated in the manuscript instead of having to make assumptions. I hope that you will feel able to assist even if Mr Justice Laddie still feels unable to do so himself. If you did not know him at the time and have never discussed the case then please confirm that information in unequivocal terms. It would mean a major rewrite but I would much prefer for the published information to be unambiguous and accurate.

If you want to take up this invitation but need more time to respond then please let me know. There is some haste because I am nearly 86 and will not live forever (Shell executives may at least be encouraged by this thought).

Yours sincerely
Alfred Donovan


No response was forthcoming from Mr Tom Moody-Stuart or from Mr Justice Laddie. .

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