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DONOVAN EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH SHELL INTERNATIONAL CONCLUDED ON 1 JUNE, 2011

EMAIL FROM JOHN DONOVAN TO GARY THOMSON, SHELL INTERNATIONAL LIMITED

From: John Donovan [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 06 May 2011 15:37
To: Thomson, Gary P SI-LSC/K
Cc: Brandjes, Michiel CM RDS-LSC; van Westrhenen, Alies W SI-LSC/C
Subject: Subject Access Request dated 2 February 2011 (the “SAR”)

Dear Mr Thomson

Thank you for your letter dated 20 April 2011 and for the enclosed information.

Could you kindly tell us what information has been withheld?

Without being aware of each type of information that has been withheld, it is impossible to make any judgement on whether we might have grounds to file a complaint with the UK Information Commissioners Office.

For example, if legal advice Shell has received has been withheld on the basis of legal or litigation privilege, when in fact no litigation that we are aware of is in progress or planned, then according to advice we have already received from the ICO, we would have grounds for making a complaint.

We have previously also pointed out that unless redactions are made using black marker blanking out, it is impossible to know where redaction has taken place on the information you do disclose. We note that this issue has been ignored so that we are still left with a guessing game. All of the information on one page supplied appears to have been redacted. There is not a single character on the entire page. We reserve our rights in relation to raising this issue with the UK ICO.

Yours sincerely

John Donovan
for and on behalf of Alfred & John Donovan

REPLY BY GARY THOMSON, SHELL INTERNATIONAL LIMITED

On 13 May 2011, at 16:57, [email protected] wrote:

Dear Mr Donovan

We refer to your email dated 6 May 2011.

The information not included in our response to your subject access request is that which we are not required to provide under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“the Act”), for example data that is not “personal data” for the purposes of the Act, data containing personal information about third parties, and data that is subject to legal advice privilege. Please note that for legal advice privilege, there is no requirement for litigation to be “in progress or planned”.

Regarding the redaction of information to which you are not entitled, the Data Protection Act 1998 does not provide any rules on the method of redaction required. Shell therefore considers that it remains in full compliance with its legal obligations regarding your subject access request.

Yours sincerely

Gary Thomson
Shell International Limited
Shell Centre, London, SE1 7NA United Kingdom
The registered office of Shell International Limited is Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA. Registered in England and Wales (Company number 3075807).

REPLY BY JOHN DONOVAN

From: John Donovan [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 31 May 2011 16:09
To: Thomson, Gary P SI-LSC/K
Cc: van Westrhenen, Alies W SI-LSC/C; Brandjes, Michiel CM RDS-LSC; Voser, Peter SI-GLOBAL
Subject: Re: Subject Access Request dated 2 February 2011 (the “SAR”)

Dear Mr Thomson

Thank you for your response dealing with the issues of legal advice privilege and surreptitious redaction.

We note that there is no denial that Shell changed the method of redaction from visible redaction to invisible redaction. That speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of Shell’s claimed core principle of transparency. Concealment has been taken to a new level when any visible evidence of information being redacted within a document is deliberately made invisible. That must take some considerable effort.

In dealing with these matters, it should be taken into account that our series of SAR applications to Shell have arisen as a result of an acrimonious relationship stretching back to 1993 involving multiple High Court cases – the last ended in July 1999.

During the years of litigation and in more recent years, Shell has resorted to extraordinary tactics, including spying operations against us, which it never expected would be exposed.

Using such activity to collect information about us appears to be in breach of the Data Collection Act 1998. All such spying activity that we are aware of took place during and after 1998, the year the UK Data Protection Act came into force. Such activity may also constitute a breach of our human rights.

Shell espionage activities against us have continued through the years and to the present day.

Shell first admitted undercover activities against us (at that time involving a Mr Christopher Phillips) in the run up to a High Court trial, which took place in 1999. Solicitors acting for Shell made it plain in related correspondence that Mr Phillips was not the only Shell agent involved. The deliberate revelation that Phillips was but one of an undisclosed number of agents involved in an investigation of us was intimidating and no doubt meant to be so. Shell lawyers were unwilling to disclose how many agents were involved, or what they were doing on Shell’s behalf.

The litigation was mired by sinister events, including a bombardment of threats by Shell, witness intimidation and burglaries carried out at the homes of my key witness, my solicitors residence and at my own home. Documentation relating to Shell seemed to be the prime target. I am unaware of any valuables being stolen at any of the burgled properties.

The most recent threats from Shell came from Mr Michiel Brandjes on 3 March 2011.  (The latest upset was caused by us assembling irrefutable evidence from independent reputable sources, including for example, The New York Times, confirming that Shell conspired directly with Hitler, heavily financed the Nazi Party, was anti-Semitic and sold out its own Dutch Jewish employees to the Nazis.)

Information about more recent Shell spying activity against us is set out below.

Legal Advice Privilege

Although couched in legal language, you seem to be saying that Shell has obtained legal advice about us in at an unspecified time in the last 12 months on an unspecified subject and that we are not entitled to see that advice because it is subject to legal advice privilege, even though no litigation is in progress or planned.

I have spoken to the Information Commissioners Office. They do not seem as certain as you are on this issue and have suggested that we file a complaint, in which case the ICO will make a ruling.

Underhanded Redaction

With regard to the question of the method used to redact information, when Shell first responded to our SAR requests, a black marker was used to blank out such information.That system worked very well.

We have provided an example dated 9 March 2007. This was a Shell internal email concerning the setting up of an aggressive counter-measures team directed at us and our website. Incidentally, this email was marked as being “Legally Privileged,” yet it contained no legal advice and was supplied to us. If Shell had used the surreptitious redaction system it has now adopted, we would not have known that there was such a substantial “address list” stretching down seven or eight lines.

When circulation lists are concealed, we do not know whether Shell is sharing information about us with other organizations. At least we could deduce the degree and type of redaction that had taken place.

A Shell internal email sent days later revealed that Shell Corporate Affairs Security (CAS) had set up an espionage/spying operation on a global basis in an attempt to trace Shell insider sources supplying us, on an unsolicited basis, with Shell internal information e.g. the Shell employee data breach.

A related internal email dated 19 March 2007 shows that Shell had contacted the USG (US Government) seeking information about us. The espionage operations were still underway in July 2009 when “CAS” used a specialist US government facility (*NCFTA), partly funded and staffed by the FBI, as part of the ongoing investigation against us. The relevant Shell internal email containing this information included the instruction: “There will be no attempt to do anything visible to Donovan..” In other words, more undercover skullduggery. This episode was covered in a published Reuters article.

Ironically, having found out that we were regular recipients of Shell insider information, U.S. Government investigators contacted me and I supplied them, at their request, with Shell confidential internal documents. The investigation concerned alleged corruption relating to a senior Shell lawyer. Equally unforeseen, a CAS spook involved in the investigation of leaks to our website, has subsequently leaked information directly to us, including top secret Shell internal intel documents, one of which, we have already published.

Returning to the issue of information redaction, if you click on this link you will see another example of what we are now receiving. The first of three pages is almost entirely blank. What point was there is sending us this page?

Shell has switched to a process where it is impossible to discern, unless there is an obvious gap in text, that any redaction has occurred. Shell is exploiting an apparent loophole to conceal the fact that redaction has even taken place. This is a further act of concealment, in addition to normal redaction. Such underhand tactics as already pointed out are also completely at odds with Shell’s claimed core principle of “transparency” and also the intended purpose of the Data Protection Act. I note from this page on the ico website that “Openness is the general rule… whether you’re dealing with an official body or a private one.”

Just over a year ago, Mr Wiseman asked us to make our SAR requests on a joint basis, rather than doing so separately in each of our names, which allowed us to receive information from Shell on a six monthly basis rather than once per year. We agreed to his request and have stuck by the arrangement so as to minimize costs and inconvenience to Shell even though the separate staggered applications suited us better. We have stuck by that agreement and will continue to do so.

Clearing up Past Mysteries

Access to information withheld on the basis of claimed legal advice privilege, or surreptitiously concealed, might help to clear up mysteries concerning the outcome of past litigation between us and Shell, as we are baffled by what we have read in the Shell internal documents you have supplied.

For example, in the most recent Focal Point document dated 19 January 2011, presumably prepared by Richard Wiseman before his retirement, it is stated in reference to me: “Notwithstanding the impression he likes to give, he failed in the only case of his against Shell that went to court.

A few days earlier, Mr Wiseman stated in reference to me in an email to a colleague at Shell Oil Company (who had touchingly described royaldutchshellplc.com as “Shell’s favorite website”)

“…he was finally defeated in the high court hear, with the judge accusing him of forgery (something he conveniently omits from his website).”

The press statement released by Shell at the end of the trial announced a stalemate outcome, not a defeat. So what is true, the information stated by Shell at the time in its press release, or what Mr Wiseman said in January 2011?

The answer is neither. In reality, I accepted the second compromise settlement offer made by Shell lawyers. Shell paid ALL legal costs (said to be over £1 million). I received a payment. I refused to settle on any other terms. There was no direct negotiation. That was left to the lawyers. I accepted what I considered to be an unsatisfactory deal because it had become plain that the judge was not impartial. He had allowed Shell lawyers to engage in subterfuge, attempted entrapment and outright deception at the climax of my cross-examination. He displayed not the slightest interest in Shell undercover activity exposed in the run up to the trial.

The judge did make comments about alleged forgery but Mr Wiseman, apparently suffers from selective memory loss. He omitted to say that the judge backed down in the face of a forceful, horrified response from my barrister, as is plain from the transcript of the “Judges Comments.”

Contrary to the assertion by Mr Wiseman about our alleged failure to publish the Judges Comments on our websites, in fact we did so several years ago. All he had to do is Google “Judges Comments Mr Justice Laddie“.

Mr Wiseman is also aware that the fracas between the judge and my barrister continued in the judges chambers until the judge was informed that he was unaware of the true terms of settlement. As Mr Wiseman confirmed in his email to me dated 17 June 2008, settlement information was withheld from the judge. It was withheld by Shell.

Mr Wiseman also conveniently forgot that:

* We wrote to the Lord Chancellor making an official complaint about (a) the blatant bias of the judge in favor of Shell and (b) his failure to disclose potential conflict of interest – his connection with the barrister son of Shell Chairman, Mark Moody-Stuart.

* By coincidence or otherwise, the judge subsequently resigned in unexplained controversial circumstances widely reported in the national press.

* It was then discovered that the judge had an undeclared lifelong friendship with the founder of an IP consultancy, which had Shell as a client.  After his sudden resignation as a High Court Judge, Sir Hugh Laddie promptly joined that same IP firm.

* Mr Wiseman and the former judge later had at least one commercial relationship of which I am aware.

So contrary to what Mr Wiseman stated in January of this year, I was not defeated in the only case which went to trial. I paid not a single penny in legal costs and received a substantial, though woefully inadequate payment by way of settlement. Shell  hid the true terms of settlement from the judge and as a consequence the judge was only aware of the settlement as falsely described in the press release issued by Shell designed to fool the media, Shell employees and shareholders.

I have provided more detailed information on the subject on this recently published webpage, which also contains the entire transcript of the trial, including the “Judges Comments” – together with my fathers inserted replies in red text.

We have no doubt that there is other equally false and misleading information circulating within Shell. We would like the opportunity to correct it all. How many documents have been withheld on the basis of legal advice privilege? Legal staff could be deliberately included in circulation lists when no legal advice is actually contained in the document/communication as per the example from March 2007 above. Is the legal advice from internal or external lawyers?

Can Shell lawyers be trusted to make decisions on what is appropriate to redact when there must be management pressure, bearing in mind the related global spying operation, to stem the flow of information reaching us? The information you have just supplied contains evidence of a warning about the creation of material, which might have to be supplied to us under a SAR request.

The decision to adopt a deliberate policy of concealing when redaction has taken place provides evidence of just how far Shell is prepared to go to flout the spirit and purpose of the Data Protection Act. If there is a loophole allowing such a dubious redaction process to be used, it should be closed.

We would like you to kindly reconsider these two issues – legal advice privilege and surreptitious redaction.

Dependent on your response, we reserve the right to lodge a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office, in which event all salient correspondence, including this reply, will be supplied as part of the submission.

We are also considering the implications in terms of our human rights and will shortly be bringing this extraordinary situation to the attention of every MP and member of The House of Lords. We will await your response before doing so.

Shell companies in the Netherlands will very shortly be supplying us with internal documents in response to a request under the Dutch Data Protection Act. It will be interesting to see if they adopt the same underhanded “concealment of concealment” policy in an attempt to hide information from us.

Yours sincerely

John Donovan

REPLY BY GARY THOMSON, SHELL INTERNATIONAL LIMITED

From: [email protected]
Date: 1 June 2011 15:00:11 GMT+01:00
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Subject Access Request dated 2 February 2011 (the “SAR”)

Dear Mr Donovan

We refer to your email dated 31 May 2011. We note your comments regarding the approach we have adopted in responding to your most recent Subject Access Request. We are satisfied that our approach is entirely appropriate and have no further comment to make.

Yours sincerely

Gary Thomson
Shell International Limited
Shell Centre, London, SE1 7NA United Kingdom
The registered office of Shell International Limited is Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA. Registered in England and Wales (Company number 3075807).

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