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ShellNews.net: Former Shell Group Auditor Bill Campbell throws down gauntlet to Shell Chairman, Jorma Ollila

Former Shell Group Auditor, Bill Campbell 

02 July 2007

Printed below is an extraordinary email sent today by former Shell International Group Auditor, Bill Campbell (above) to Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chairman, Jorma Ollila and the Company Secretary, Michiel Brandjes.

It was also copied to: –

*Shell executives including Jeroen van der Veer and Malcolm Brinded
*Senior officials of The Health & Safety Executive
*Relevant trade unions
*The news media

Mr Campbell also supplied with the email documentary evidence in support of his serious allegations against Shell management. We have that evidence in our possession including a letter from Michiel Brandjes to Mr Campbell sent on behalf of Jorma Ollila.  

THE CONTENT OF THE EMAIL FROM MR BILL CAMPBELL

The following e-mail and attachments has been copied to the Chairman of Shell, several Directors and other key Shell players, the HSE, some trade union organisations, the BBC and ITN/Channel4  and a selection of newspapers, and web-sites. 

Note to Media/Journalists
The detail of the evidence against Shell is given in the attachments, a summary is given below.  I do not expect Journalists and others to trawl through this data in the attachments but it can be used as a reference.  I would ask you to understand that I could not make such serious allegations against Shell Directors without providing detail.  Also, I understand it is difficult for Newspapers to publish such allegations, and in any case its hardly newsworthy that Shell officials are corrupt, but I hope you can publish. I think it is in the public interest and is I think your social responsibility since it relates to the health and safety of persons at work offshore and the argument put forward by me from the evidence that these risks are rising.  But if not, I wished there to be a detailed historic record particularly as, in my opinion, another major accident event appears inevitable, so hence the detail in the attachments. Also you should be aware that many of these allegations have been made before and are in the public domain.  The allegations have never been formally challenged by Shell although they have had much opportunity and time to do so.  I think you should also be aware that Shell detest the oxygen of bad publicity and those journalists who have had the audacity to criticise Shell for its wrongdoing are not easily forgiven. Note the following examples-

Shell campaign against journalists – an example of vindictiveness
 
Andrew McFadyen the producer of the Frontline Scotland in 2006, phoned me recently to say he is in a spot of bother.  Shell lawyers have formally complained to BBC Scotland about his conduct.  The sin that McFadden committed in the eyes of Shell was in telling me about the detail of his transcripts of conversations with Greg Hill prior to the transmission of the programme ‘The Human Price of Oil’ on the 14th June 2006.  Hill had, in April 2006, freely admitted that the 1999 audit had not been followed up effectively and indeed, maintenance records for safety critical equipment had been falsified amongst other things.  The Shell complaint was not that what Hill told the BBC was untrue, but that McFadden broke some unwritten code in revealing this information to me.  Shell also threatened Chris Hopson and for a short time were prepared to cancel the advertising contract with Upstream Magazine in retribution for the articles published on 16th June 2006.  And I am also aware from anecdotal evidence that Malcolm Brinded is fond of lambasting the journalists he meets at high table events in London for their audacity is publishing articles critical of the safety performance of Shell. 
 
Yet Shell, are a company whose published, almost angelic business principles, are declared as being that of honesty integrity and fairness, respect for all the people with whom it does business.  Despite this, as in 1999 with its false statements on the Touch Fuck All issue to the BBC’s Colin Wight, and to the Scotsman’s Frank Urquart, then later in June 2006 to all and sundry, and recently with the rebuttal to the Scotsman and Guardian articles in March this year, it has consistently and purposefully lied to the media and newspapers.  It appears to do this with impunity. 
 
Why have I sent this e-mail at this time
 
I have been in mediation with Shell since September last year in the expectation of getting them to settle with me out of court for Defamatory statements made against me, these are explained below.  The mediation process failed.  It would seem that if I ever wish to get Shell into a Court it will be very difficult for an individual and might, I am advised take 3 or 4 years, if Shell block the process step by step.  I cannot wait that long so rather than defamation proceedings Campbell Vs Shell this note is an open challenge to Mr Jorma Ollila, the Shell Chairman, I wish to give him the opportunity to reverse this process into Court proceedings Shell Vs Campbell to clear his name and that of his Directors. 
——————————————————————————————-

Open Challenge to the Jorma Ollila, the Shell Chairman
 
Mr. Ollila, I recently wrote to you in February this year asking you to investigate the behaviour of your CEO J. van der Veer and the Executive Director of Shell EP M. Brinded for their actions in subverting their internal investigation report into the follow up of the Brent Bravo audit by taking no account of its findings in the public statements and statements made to your employees in June last year, and in March this year.

In your reply (there is an extract of your letter copied as an attachment) you made it obvious that you see no need for such an investigation into the conduct of J van der Veer and M Brinded.
 
Your letter of reply will be widely distributed along with the attachments to this e-mail. So now you will be on public record as supporting the statement made by your Company in June 2006 in that after the 1999 audit that you personally are satisfied that 
 
* Significant progress had been made on asset integrity and management systems and further that this progress has contributed to the continual improvement in Shell’s safety performance since 1999 in the North Sea

* You absolutely refute allegations that you operated offshore installations at high risk levels at any time and that safety critical equipment maintenance records had ever been falsified and you emphasise that that Safety is, and always will be your first priority

Giving the weight and breadth of the evidence covered in the attachments of this e-mail more than half of which was freely given to me by the HSE under the Freedom of Information Act.  Or otherwise is available for public scrutiny on that authorities web-site.  Or is from the determinations of the Sheriff or the Crown Office.  Or finally, is from formal Shell internal audits and reviews the findings of which were accepted at the time by your Directors then it appears that the Shell statements which you support were intentionally misleading.  The readers can make up their own mind if they care to look at the detail in the attachment ‘the evidence against Shell.’
 
The Oxford dictionary defines a lie as an intentionally misleading statement therefore ipso facto the perpetrators of these statements namely Greg Hill, Malcolm Brinded and Jeroen van der Veer are in my opinion liars.  It is as simple and straightforward as that. 
 
What the Shell Public Statements neglect to mention!
 
From the period in June 2006 till present day I have gathered evidence that supports my claim that your statements above are lies.  This additional evidence mainly from the HSE and the Crown Office.  The shortcomings in your statements that you support are that they ignore the reality of the situation in that-
 
You have stated that significant progress had been made on asset integrity and management systems and further that this progress has contributed to the continual improvement in Shell’s safety performance since 1999 in the North Sea.  But your statement is intentionally misleading and in my opinion a lie.  Your statements ignores the fact that shortly after the fatal accident in 2003 Greg Hill at that time a Production Director, accompanied by his boss Tom Botts, had communicated to the HSE that there had been significant deterioration in the management of technical integrity on the 15 offshore installations covered by his post fatalities technical integrity review.  As an indication of how bad the situation was Hill is reported by the HSE to have stated that he was shocked and horrified when he found out the extend of the problems in his North Sea operations.  What Shell told the HSE in 2003 can be viewed in a sample of the actual viewgraphs used on that day in the PowerPoint attachment Part Two of this mail.
 
You have stated that significant progress had been made on asset integrity and management systems and further that this progress has contributed to the continual improvement in Shell’s safety performance since 1999 in the North Sea.  But your statement is intentionally misleading and in my opinion a lie.  Your statement ignores the fact that Shell in the North Sea were almost continually in breach of Offshore Regulations from 1999 till 2003.  The statements made no reference to the fact that your Company was served with 15 Enforcement Notices because of serious failures, and your Directors were warned in writing in 2001 by the HSE that they had been in breach of Regulations continually for 24 months.  And that your Directors did not take any effective action to correct this situation as a significant number of Enforcement Notices were issued after this warning covering the same failure category.
 
You also neglect in your statement the fact known to Shell that in 2005 the Procurator Fiscal considered prosecution of your Company for its failure to follow-up the 1999 audit specifically. For your Director Chris Finlayson giving misleading information on the Touch Fuck All issue to the HSE. For allowing the Brent Bravo to continue in operation with risks estimated by your auditors to be in the intolerable region, and for not warning the workforce of those risks as required by legislation.  The Procurator Fiscal Earnest Barbour informed the HSE that although he considered the evidence against Shell serious and substantive he could not consider prosecution action in the public interest only because it would be too difficult given the elapsed time.  From an internal investigation carried out into the decision making of the Procurator Fiscal the Solicitor General stated last year in a written parliamentary reply that she was of the opinion from reports given to her that the conditions on Brent Bravo, as witnessed after the fatalities, had existed for a long period of time (years).  She specifically raised concerns about the haphazard way that temporary repairs on pipes had been carried out over this prolonged period. 
 
So in summary Mr Ollila, the Shell statements in 2006, which you are on record as supporting, would be contested in Court, not only in evidence given under oath by your own employees, but by representatives of the Industry Regulator and the Scottish Criminal Prosecution Service.
 
Senior HSE officials are copied on this e-mail.  If called upon to give testimony in a Court I am confident that the HSE would confirm that rather than continuous improvement since 1999 the HSE, despite its robust efforts, and despite raising its concerns to corporate level, the HSE failed to get Shell to comply with its legal obligations.  Rather than continuous improvement the evidence presented to the HSE in 2003 indicated chronic weaknesses, loss of effective control of the management of technical integrity on the 15 offshore installations covered by the data.   
 
On 31st August last year, in the presence of Jake Molloy of the OILC, I discussed with the HSE that there may be a requirement for them to give evidence in my favour at any future Court proceedings and they raised no objections to so doing. 
 
As a result of the August meeting, and as an example of the ongoing difficulties the HSE were still having with a non-compliant Shell in 2006, the HSE requested me to give them advice on how the business controls framework within Shell worked, specifically the internal audit process, so that they could better audit your Company.  I did this in November last year at a session with Mr Tony Blackmore the details of which are covered in the attachments.  
 
Subversion of your internal investigation report
 
In your reply you consider that these matters were investigated fully in 2005, perhaps they were, but are you aware that in a telephone conversation to me in June last year, Jakob Stausholm, the investigation team leader informed me apologetically that his findings were ostensibly ignored.  In the conversation he disassociates both himself and his colleague Richard Sykes from the public statements issued by the EP crisis team.  They had been essentially told to sit on their hands and keep quiet.  The Stausholm telephone call was recorded at the time and a copy of the recording was offered to Shell.  Your internal investigation had reported to J van der Veer that there was no evidence that the  immediate short term measures to reduce risks on Brent Bravo had been undertaken and that the longer-term measures to correct the unacceptable behaviour in 1999 were truncated by 2001 whilst only 20% complete.  The Post Fatalities Review found that the negative behaviour witnessed in 2003 was consistent with the negative behaviour witnessed in 1999.
 
I then wrote to J. van der Veer alleging that he and M Brinded had purposefully subverted their own investigation report findings and in so doing had issued intentionally false statements about the follow up to the 1999 audit.  Defamation proceedings, would proceed unless we could collectively agree an out of Court settlement.  Van der Veer then instructed his legal Counsel Keith Ruddock to commence a mediation process.  
 
The Mediation Process to settle all this out of Court
 
The public statements about me in June last year were in my opinion defamatory in that amongst other things they accused me of making serious allegations against Shell employees which were completely unjustified.  But rather than dragging all this through the Courts, and making Shell employees give testimony against their employer, I asked van der Veer to consider mediation in the greater interests of limiting damage to the reputation of Shell and to avoid putting my friends and former colleagues into the position of giving testimony under oath against their employee.  My requirements were not particularly onerous and in four parts. 1 and 2 are alleged by your legal counsel Keith Ruddock and your HSE ‘Czar’ Kieron McFadyen to have been completed to date. 
 
That Malcolm Brinded personally apologised to the 1999 team members, namely Hoskins, Merry Madden and Mutimer for his despicable behaviour towards them.  I was informed in the presence of an independent witness that that had been done by November last year.  Also my request that Shell apologise to the HSE for Chris Finlayson misleading them re the Touch Fuck All consequences and for not informing them of the serious audit findings in 1999 was alleged by Kieron McFadyen to have been complied with.  He informed me, and my independent witness, that he had met the Head of the Offshore Division of the HSE Ian Whewell, and at a later meeting, he and James Smith, the Shell UK Country Chairman, had met with Geoffrey Podger the Chief Executive of the HSE.
 
The third request was that Shell would issue a communiqué to staff world-wide where Malcolm Brinded would accept that there were shortcomings in how the follow-up from 1999 was handled.  I agreed a form of words with Ruddock and McFadyen in November last year but when this was presented back to Brinded he rejected it.  Despite ongoing mediation since that date Shell have refused to issue the statement I would have settled for.  Subsequently I have withdrawn from the mediation process.  The fourth request was that Shell were to apologise to their employees on the installations effected in 1999 and 2003 for not informing them at the time of the unacceptable risks that were being taken on these installations.  This request was not actioned, the trade unions copied should take note of that.

A Summary of the evidence against Shell 
 
Before the fatalities 

* Shell were continually in breach of Regulations from 1999 till 2003, being served with 15 Enforcement Orders, and Directors were warned in 2001 by the HSE that they had been in breach of Regulations continually for 24 months

* The number of temporary repairs rose from a handful in 1999 to over 500 in 2003 over 200 of which were not approved. The Inquiry found that the initiating event leading to the fatal accident was a leak from an unproved repair

* In 1999 process plant was being operated whilst known to be in a dangerous condition.  A similar circumstance prevailed in 2003 where the failure of a level control valve (known to be defective) on the Drains Degasser Vessel contributed to the hugh volumes of gas entering the utility shaft

* In 1999 there were verified failures to maintain in good working order emergency shutdown valves, and the falsification of the test records of these valves and other safety equipment such as fire and gas detection systems.  The Inquiry found that failure of an ESD valve in 2003 contributed to the hugh volumes of gas entering the utility shaft

* In 1999 there were verified to be serious violations from the application of the Permit to Work and other essential procedures.  The Inquiry found that the deceased persons had entered the utility shaft to effect a repair on the leaking pipe without having a permit and without following fully the shaft entry procedures

After the Fatalities
 
Mr Ollila after the fatalities in September 2003 your public statements form the opinion that significant progress continues to have been made on asset integrity and management systems. Further you state that this progress has contributed to the continual improvement in Shell’s safety performance since 2003 in the North Sea
 
Perhaps you can then elucidate why since despite being prosecuted for the unlawful deaths of two men in September 2003 you have failed 36 times since those fatalities to comply with your legal obligations. The most worrying aspect of all this evidence Mr Ollila is that post the fatalities, when you would expect the lessons would have been learnt from that tragic event that despite the unlawful killing of two of your employees from September 2003 till the present day, the rate of issue of enforcement actions have actually increased threefold, there has been an increase in the number of high potential incidents, and there has been an increase in prosecutions.  And to cap it all there is evidence that the unacceptable behaviour causing the fatalities in 2003 persists
 
To the trade union representatives copied on this mail and attachments this should be their principal concern because the combination and coexistence of these mutually inclusive circumstances means that there is inevitably going to be, its just a matter of time, another major accident event.
 
Evidence of continued unacceptable behaviour
 
Not only has there been an increase in non-compliance and high potential incidents but the evidence against Shell in the attachments give examples of continuing bad behaviour, two examples are
 
In 2006 the stairs on Brent Bravo utility shaft continuing to be used by the workforce oblivious of the risks because the inspection report condemning these stairs as unsafe due to corrosion was subverted. 
 
This year Shell failed to report a gas leak on Dunlin Alpha to the HSE which is an offence under the provisions of the relevant legislation .

 
Specific allegations against your Officials

 
You will note in the attachments that I make specific allegations about the conduct of Messrs Finlayson, Brinded and van der Veer. If these allegations were not true they would be extremely defamatory. But they are true and would be supported in Court by your own employees, the HSE and the Crown Office.
 
You should personally also take great care in any public rebuttal by you of these allegations specifically the evidence provided freely to me by the HSE and the Solicitor General. Such rebuttal would significantly embarrass them since it is their independent evidence that so condemns you and your Company.
 
Also there is a chance that you are to a degree an innocent who also has been lied to and misled by van der Veer and Brinded. Any denial by you, or Shell on your behalf, will remove the doubts that you are incompetent, and demonstrate a significant lack of oversight over your Company, by placing you in the bracket of accomplice, as someone as they say, tarred by the same brush.
 
The impotence of your Company to take any meaningful action against me (you may bluff and threaten but that’s what you did in 2006 with the BBC and others) will be the acid test. So meaningful action is going to Court in a case of Shell Vs. Campbell, and clearing your name or otherwise, something that I would welcome. That is the challenge for you Mr Ollila given openly and copied in the public domain. The truth is Mr Ollila, you know it, van der Veer knows it and Brinded knows it, hell will freeze over before you appear in Court to clear your tarnished reputations, and as we say in the oil business, that’s the bottom line.
 
So as a Shareholder, and in line with your business principles and the post reserves debacle improved governance procedures I would once again, but this time in public, request that you consider these allegations against your officials seriously and with some immediacy hold an independent investigation into their conduct.  
 
Bill Campbell
 
Shareholder

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