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Letter to Lord Browne from Shell Brent Bravo whistleblower Bill Campbell

“It is my intention, when I update Trade Union officials et al, to inform them that I made you aware of this matter and I would expect Geoffrey, if he has any of that difficult to obtain substance in our modern world, called honour, to apologise for the fact that your were duped and misled.”

Bill Campbell referring to Geoffrey Podger (right), Chief Executive of the Health & Safety Executive

This correspondence is directed to Lord Browne of Ladyton and concerns issues raised by him on my behalf in a Letter to Lord McKenzie at that time an Under Secretary of State at the DWP on 23 August 2007.  At the time Des Browne was the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Dear Mr Browne

At the time Lord McKenzie answered your letter, with the standard reply to some 15 other MP’s who had raised concerns directly with him.  This was as a result of a open letter that I had copied to all MP’s in 2007.  I have highlighted in the attachment (in bold) how these concerns were handled both by HSE and DWP but suffice to say you were given unambiguous assurances that the concerns raised by me were unfounded.

The position taken by Geoffrey Podger is described in the attachment, he was apparently not involved in the process and did not authorise the HSE information passed to DWP which was then used to give you assurance. The HSE information was also not authorised or indeed discussed by the then Head of the Offshore Division in Aberdeen, he confirmed this to me in writing.  The HSE information passed to DWP was written by an HSE official within the Offshore Division whose actions (amongst others) were the subject of the criminal investigation.  The issue is that the information passed to you was false and misleading, or lies if you like the dictionary definition.

Without boring you with great detail their were 2 principal areas of deceit in the information passed to DWP.

The official stated that the evidence I passed to HSE both in 2003 only days after the fatalities on Brent Bravo, and in the period May 2005 was for information only.  Both the Fiscal and Grampian Police were copied on the letter I passed to the same official on 22nd May 2005 where I requested that my evidence could be used in the Prosecution of Shell and more importantly be passed to the Lord Advocate who at that time was debating as to whether a FAI was to be held or not.  It is not contentious that the statement made by the HSE official was false.

Secondly the official stated in blunt terms that my evidence provided in 2003 and 2005 was not evidence, not relevant and could therefore be dismissed. As stated on the attachment that was also a false assurance.  It was the detail of that evidence that was the basis for the Police to consider it a serious matter and thus report to the Fiscal and for her investigation then to commence in March 2009.  It is speculation, but given the concerns raised publicly by prominent politicians at the time including Alex Salmond, and by Trade Unions, that if that evidence had been made available to the Procurator Fiscal Depute dealing with these matters at the time, that a more General Inquiry would have been held as discussed in the attachment.

Although it is accepted that the official passed false information to the DWP, and hence to you and others, you may be surprised to know that the official has never been subject to internal disciplinary action and was not interviewed informally, or formally under caution, to ascertain why he did this.  Either by the police or the Fiscal.

It is my intention, when I update Trade Union officials et al, to inform them that I made you aware of this matter and I would expect Geoffrey, if he has any of that difficult to obtain substance in our modern world, called honour, to apologise for the fact that your were duped and misled. I am confident if you had been made aware of the true situation you would have taken appropriate actions to fully understand the implications of the concerns raised in 2007.

I would like to thank your interest at the time and wish you well in your new role in the Lords.  I note your interest in human rights, the story in the attachment is not only about how the human rights of workers offshore were ignored but how their legal rights, under the various provisions of the H&S etc at Work Act, were also ignored by a callous employer and a non-compliant Regulator.

Yours sincerely

Bill Campbell
March 17, 2011

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