An Open Letter from John Donovan To JEROEN VAN DER VEER (sent by email)
Dear Mr Van der Veer
As a long term Shell shareholder I am extremely concerned by the serious allegations made by the former Shell International Group Auditor, Mr Bill Campbell, concerning alleged falsification of records in relation to the Shell Brent scandal.
We really cannot have a distinguished former high level Shell official being allowed to make such accusations without Shell taking action against him for defamation if, as Shell claims, they are untrue.
This is not a case of some outsider ignorant of the facts making wild accusations. The charges in this case are being made by a person of high reputation and considerable expertise following his authorised investigation as Group Auditor into the Brent safety regime.
Since a number of “accidental” deaths have occurred on Brent Bravo, two of which resulted in a record breaking Ł900,000 fine imposed on Shell, the allegation of falsification of records could result in criminal charges if true.
Mr Campbell is on record as claiming that he has personally met with you to discuss these matters. If this is correct, then you must be fully briefed on the issues and the allegations he has publicly made. They have been repeated in various mass media sources and in trade publications including, for example, UpstreamOnline.
Mr Campbell says that ESDV leak-off tests were purposely falsified, not once but many times. He further alleges that the inaction of the relevant Asset Manager, the General Manager, the Oil Director and the Shell Expro Managing Director in 1999 (Malcolm Brinded), contributed in some part to the unlawful killing of two persons on Brent Bravo in September 2003.
My father and I have published some outspoken articles about Shell ourselves but nothing as serious as the charges levelled against Shell management by your own former Group Auditor. And as you are aware, we have a special dispensation from Shell International Petroleum Company to say what we like about Shell.
Surely Shell is not going to allow Mr Campbell to continued repeating these devastating allegations? If they are unfounded, why have you not already instituted libel proceedings? If they are true, why have you not sacked Malcolm Brinded? Why has he not done the honourable thing and resigned?
You had no compunction about bringing a draconian defamation action against Dr John Huong. Why the reluctance to set your lawyers on to Mr Campbell. If you do not take action, people will naturally assume that Shell management is unwilling to do so because Mr Campbell is speaking the truth and can prove it.
Knowing Shell management as I do, no doubt Shell undercover agents are already engaged in “activities” in relation to the loose cannon, Mr Campbell – the ultimate whistleblower. As you are aware, one of your predecessors as the boss of bosses at Shell was simultaneously the spymaster of a sinister private intelligence company staffed by former MI6 agents who carried out operations for Shell on an international basis. Mr Campbell will therefore be well advised to be on his guard at all times while these matters are still on the boil.
If anyone says anything untrue about Shell, it is your duty Mr Van der Veer to take action to protect the reputation of the Shell brand. However, you have my sympathy to some degree because Shell management blunders and misdeeds have been so wide-ranging that people who wish to criticise have an almost unlimited supply of ammunition (as the recent articles below confirm).
Conclusion: the fact that Shell has not obtained an injunction to prevent Mr Campbell making his allegations speaks volumes. He is plainly a man of great courage speaking the truth.