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£250,000 to close down anti-Shell website

By John Donovan

We have recently received information from Shell in response to our 2011 SAR application under the Data Protection Act.

It always contains some surprises, and this time is no exception.

Unbeknown to us, Shell engaged in email correspondence in September/October 2010 with an unknown third party, a business owner, on the subject of Shell paying us a large sum to stop our campaigning focused on Shell.

The correspondence is reproduced below in chronological order, with the first email dated 25 Sept 2010. Identification information other than our surname and web domain name has been redacted by Shell.

We have good reason to believe that the person responding for Shell was Mr Richard Wiseman, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Mr Wiseman retired a couple of months ago.

We have no idea of the identity of the person who contacted Shell. We assume that it must be someone who impressed Mr Wiseman, or he would not have engaged in the correspondence.

Basically the person suggested that Shell should pay us £250,000 to get rid of us.

THE EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE

From:
Sent: 25 September 2010 09:47
To:
Subject: The Donovans

Dear

I have no connections to Shell or the Donovan’s. An insomnia induced, web browsing session led me to the dispute between the two of you. I have no comment regarding the events, other than to say I can see that it has taken up a lot of resources between the two protagonists. If I were in Shell’s position I would offer the Donovan’s £250,000 to leave the world of Shell behind them and to get on with their lives.

Their website www.rovaldutchshellplc.com ranks 6th on Google! That is all.

Kind regards

RESPONSE FROM SHELL

On 9 Oct 2010, at 07:19,xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    > wrote:

Dear

Thank you for your thoughts. I think that inadvertently you are suggesting we respond to blackmail. Apart from the ethical considerations, what we do the next time it happened?

Regards

Royal Dutch Shell plc Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA
Registered in England and Wales number 4366849 Registered Office: Shell  Centre, London, SE 1
Headquarters: Carel van Bylandtlaan 30, 2596 HR The Hague, The Netherlands

Tel:Fax:
Mobile:
Email:
Internet: http://www.shell.com

RESPONSE FROM BUSINESS OWNER

From:
Sent:    09 October 2010 09:51
To:
Subject:    Re: The Donovan’s

Dear

I can’t see how it could be construed as blackmail. The Donovan’s have already published information about Shell and will continue to do so. I am suggesting a legal agreement between the protagonists which would result in The Donovans transferring ownership of all their websites to Shell and agreeing not to publish anything in the future in return for a sum of money.

I own a successful business and the last thing I would want is a determined, disgruntled customer/supplier, hell bent on making my life difficult.

You must think I’m a complete weirdo or have some connection to the Donovan’s. Truth is I went to a wine tasting in Bury St Edmunds and really liked the building it was in, when I got home I googled the address. It turned out to be the former offices of Don Marketing.

Having spent 8 hours of my life reading all about the battles between the two of you I felt I might as well write to you and tell you what I would do.

Regards

Sent from my iPhone

RESPONSE FROM SHELL

On 9 Oct 2010, at 10:17, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    > wrote:

Mr

As you know the conflict between Shell and the Donovans goes back many years. I would prefer not to go into the details of why an arrangement of the sort you suggest would not work in practice with these individuals.

Regards

Royal Dutch Shell plc Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA
Registered in England and Wales number 4366849 Registered Office: Shell Centre, London, SE1
Headquarters: Carel van Bylandtlaan 30, 2596 HR The Hague, The Netherlands

Tel
Fax:
Mobile:
Email:
Internet: http://www.shell.com

RESPONSE

From:
Sent:    0-9 October 2010 10.29
To:
Subject:    Re: The Donovan’s

Dear

I guess if it were that simple, it would have been resolved many years ago.

[ hope you’ll excuse my intrusion.

Regards

Sent from my iPhone

EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE ENDS

Shell used the word blackmail and also implied that we could not be trusted to keep to any such agreement.

Both charges are entirely without foundation.

Shell has settled several High Court actions we brought against the company for breach of contract. Shell subsequently broke the peace treaty settlement signed in 1999 and as a consequence, we served legal notice on Shell that it had repudiated that agreement. Shell took no legal action denying that this was the case. All of this is documented. It is Shell that has a “breach of contact” track record and cannot be trusted to honour agreements.

All of our campaigning activities against Shell are entirely non-commercial and always have been. There is no income from our activities. We have not approached Shell suggesting that they should pay us anything to cease campaigning and will never do so. We have never asked anyone else to approach Shell on our behalf and will never do so.  Hence any suggestion of blackmail is also unfair and untrue.

We were approached by a businessman some years ago seeking our permission for him to contact Shell with the aim of negotiating a deal with the same objective, on the basis of him receiving a fee of some kind. We declined his offer.

We are aware from previous Shell internal documents supplied to us in response to a SAR application that someone at Shell raised the prospect of trying to “engage with the Donovans, to try to bring them onside or get them to tone down their anti Shell stance?”

A retired senior Shell manager, a Dutchman, approached us in 2007 and again in 2011 asking if we had any objections to him trying to act as a peacemaker between the parties. He had approached Shell on the same basis, an offer to act as an unpaid intermediary out of the best of intentions – blessed are the peacemakers. He met with me in the UK and with Shell directors at The Hague.  The last I heard from those discussions is that the Royal Dutch Shell Company Secretary and General Counsel Corporate, Michiel Brandjes, who is now designated as our main contact with Shell, says that I get on well with him, which is perfectly true. I have even received Christmas greetings from him.

Under the circumstances, why would anyone, including The Sunday Times, be under the impression that we have any animosity towards Shell?


The Guardian: 92-year-old’s website leaves oil giant Shell-shocked: 26 October 2009

PDF Version of Guardian article

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