THE FOLLOWING IS A SELF-EXPLANATORY LETTER FAXED ON 20 APRIL 2006 TO LAWYERS ACTING FOR THE EIGHT ROYAL DUTCH SHELL GROUP MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES WHO HAVE JUST ISSUED FURTHER LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST DR JOHN HUONG INCLUDING A FURTHER HIGH COURT INJUNCTION IN RESPECT OF CORRESPONDENCE/INFORMATION PUBLISHED RECENTLY ON THIS WEBSITE.
20 April 2006
T H Liew & Partners
Level 28 Central Plaza
34 Jalan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
4 PAGES BY FAX ONLY TO: 00 60 03 21474512
FROM ALFRED DONOVAN, ShellNews.net
RE: ORIGINAL LAW SUIT NO. S2-23-41-2004
NEW LAW SUIT NO. S2-23-38-2006
EIGHT ROYAL DUTCH SHELL COMPANIES –v- DR HUONG YIU TUONG
Dr John Huong, the Defendant in the above defamation action contacted my son John and me by telephone on 19 April at around 10pm (local time in Miri, Sarawak).
Dr Huong informed us that about an hour earlier, someone representing your law firm had, without any prior notice, called at his home and served a set of legal documents over an inch thick on behalf of your EIGHT ROYAL DUTCH SHELL GROUP clients.
We understand that the documents included the following items: –
- A Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim lodged with the High Court of Malaya on 29 March 2006.
- A Summons in Chambers together with a supporting Affidavit seeking an Interim Injunction and costs.
- Notification of a hearing in Chambers in Kuala Lumpur on 21st April 2006.
We understand that the whole purpose of this latest litigation is to demand the removal of certain articles/information and correspondence published by us on our websites on 2nd, 7th & 8th February 2006.
Whilst Dr Huong requested that the information be removed immediately from our websites, he was unable to identify all of the information your clients are demanding should be removed e.g. the information allegedly posted on 8th February. He also quoted website domain names which do not exist e.g. “shellnews.website”. We have in fact published information on 15 different Shell related website domain names:
Dr Huong did mention the draft Affidavit (which we drafted with Dr Huong) and letters sent to Jyoti Munsiff and Human Rights Watch. He would not go into detail. Obviously it is impossible for us to make any decisions on such matters when we are in the dark about what exactly is being demanded by your clients in terms of the specific publications or the specific website domain names/sites.
Dr Huong is understandably frightened of saying too much or supplying any relevant documentation because of the repeated threats of imprisonment made against him by your law firm on behalf of the EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell Group Plaintiff companies. This is apparently the case even in respect of documents already in the public domain. This is despite the fact that Shell International Petroleum Company Limited General Counsel, Mr Richard Wiseman, has argued previously in correspondence with us that documents already in the public domain can be used without restriction (when it suits Shell). We have the relevant correspondence.
The intimidation which has been directed against Dr Huong over the last two years has been heightened by the recent court room ambush when “Notice To Show Cause” documents were served on him during the midst of his Industrial High Court action against Shell for wrongful dismissal. The motive for that unseemly move at a crucial moment in the hearing must be suspect. Now you have served the latest avalanche of legal documents against him at his home, no doubt to cause him maximum embarrassment with his family and create further pressure on him. We understand that Shell is also seeking costs in respect of the pending hearing.
These are similar tactics to those used against us in our past litigation with Shell. We even received a letter from Shell lawyers in which they blatantly threatened to make the relevant litigation “drawn out and difficult”, with the obvious intention to drain the resources of a financially weaker opponent.
Your clients apparently insist on the case being heard in Kuala Lumpur even though Dr Huong resides in Miri some 1300 kilometres away. How is he supposed to pay for travel and accommodation expenses let alone legal representation fees? While Dr Huong is unemployed and has no income because of his victimisation by your clients, Shell is sitting on an unprecedented cash mountain as a result of record high oil prices. It has made some $13 billion USD in the past financial year, earning $1.5 million USD every hour.
Under the circumstances it is a disgrace for Shell to conduct the litigation on such an unscrupulous and unfair basis, especially since Shell management has been aware for almost two years that we, not Dr Huong, were responsible for the alleged defamatory statements.
You have given Dr Huong less than 48 hours notice of the court hearing on 21st April which is being held as indicated some 1300 kilometres from his home. Again that appears to be totally unfair and unreasonable. We had heard that if your clients did move forward with further proceedings we would be asked by Dr Huong’s lawyers to supply Affidavits. However, since we are several thousand of miles away, that is a physical impossibility.
Within days of your law firm issuing the original proceedings in these matters against Dr Huong in June 2004, I wrote to your firm and to the Judge hearing the case at that time. I made it plain in my July 2004 letters that the website cited in the legal documents – “Whistleblower No 2” – has never existed and that I, not Dr Huong, was legally responsible for the publication of the articles published under his name.
Although no notice was taken of this and other admittances in this matter made consistently by us since July 2004, we have briefly mentioned some points below which may clarify the situation bearing in mind that we cannot provide a proper Affidavit at such short notice particularly when we are unsure what is required.
ALL of the publications which are the subject of the defamation proceedings were made by us on our websites. Dr Huong has never posted a single word on any website operated by us.
Dr Huong supplied rough drafts which were edited by us. Extracts from articles previously originated and published by us were added to the rough drafts, together with new commentary which blended in with the general themes raised by Dr Huong. He left it to our judgement as to suitability for publication in some form.
Almost ALL of the material subsequently cited in the legal proceedings issued by your clients was drafted by us, not by Dr Huong.
From a legal standpoint ALL of the websites in question in relation to the alleged defamatory publications are owned and operated by me, Alfred Ernest Donovan. I will be 89 years old on 22 April 2006. I await appropriate birthday greetings from Shell management. The previously mentioned Shell General Counsel Mr Richard Wiseman, has been kind enough to send birthday greetings to me previously.
From apractical standpoint the websites are operated jointly by me and my son John Alfred Donovan, who is a joint signatory of this letter. Because of my age and disabilities arising from my service as a regular soldier in World War II, my input is limited to handwritten articles or contributions to articles published on the websites. Because of my impaired hearing, my son has dealt with the telephone discussions with Dr Huong. I have only spoken to Dr Huong very briefly from time to time. The Wall Street Journal published an article in June 2005 about my website and our battles with Shell which mentioned the fact that my son handles my telephone calls because of my poor hearing.
We published all of the items which were posted on the cited dates in February 2006. In fact no one else has ever published any article or documents on our websites.
My son and I jointly decide on design, fonts, colours, layouts, titles etc in respect of all such publications on our websites. We have never acted as the agents or servants of Dr Huong or anyone else. All of the websites are operated on a non-profit-making basis, with NO advertising or subscriptions. All services are FREE.
Under the circumstances it seems fair to also point out that conducting a court hearing on these matters without our direct input/involvement is analogous to trying to conduct a wedding ceremony without the bride. This is not a fitting analogy but it’s the best we can come up with at short notice. We are responsible for all such information/articles/documents published on our websites, not Dr Huong who has been an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire in a war which has been going on for over a decade through multiple High Court actions, none of which have been won by Shell.
If anyone wants us to consider removing any publications from the website then someone will need to inform us in writing precisely what is being demanded. A direct approach would be much more honest than trying to apply pressure via a surrogate.
As indicated my son and I accept full responsibility for the articles in question which were published by us and would recommend that Royal Dutch Shell issues proceedings against us in the appropriate legal jurisdiction, rather than pursuing a case against an innocent party in the wrong jurisdiction. If any such action is brought, we will however defend it vigorously on the basis of justified comments based on fact.
We would also point out that Shell acknowledged in a written submission to the World Intellectual Property Organisation in May 2005 that I have every right to criticise Shell on my websites.
FROM SHELL INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED LEGAL SUBMISSION TO THE WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION REGARDING THE WEBSITE OF ALFRED DONOVAN: 18 MAY 2005
“The Complainant and the Group it represents have been aware of the site since the beginning and whilst they would not endorse or agree with many of the comments made by the Respondent on the website, they have taken the view that the Respondent is entitled to express his opinions and to use the Internet as a medium for doing so.”
The acknowledgement by Shell was in respect of proceedings issued against me by Shell International through the WIPO in respect of a number of Shell related domain names. Shell lost the action and I retain the domain names in question, including the dotcom domain name for Shell’s $223 billion merged company, Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
On 11th November 2005 the aforesaid Shell General Counsel Mr Richard Wiseman, mentioned in an email to me Shell’s “tolerance” of my internet activities. This is what he said: –
“The extraordinary tolerance shown to your internet activities ought to demonstrate better than anything else the fact that we are uninterested in, and unmoved by, your current activities.”
Those “activities” included the posting of the original articles in question relating to Dr Huong. Apparently these basic human rights to freedom of expression on the internet do not extend to a Malaysian citizen which Shell has wrongly accused of defamation. It also proves that contrary to the bravado expressed by Mr Wiseman, Shell management in fact is extremely interested in and agitated by my activities on the internet.
We apologise for what is obviously a rushed letter but it seemed more important to send it in time for the hearing tomorrow than to spend time trying to cover every aspect.
We are also sending copies to the court, to Dr Huong’s lawyers, and to Mr Richard Wiseman.
ShellNews.net address: 847a Second Ave, New York City, NY 10017 USA
Telephone: 1 (646) 502-8756 Fax: 1 (646) 349-2605
(We are personally resident in the UK)