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CORPORATE SPYING OUT OF CONTROL

By John Donovan

“France’s state energy firm EDF has been fined €1.5m by a Paris court for spying on Greenpeace.”

“The energy company’s former security chief was sentenced to three years in prison for employing a firm to hack into the energy watchdog’s computers.”

See Guardian article “EDF fined €1.5m for spying on Greenpeace” from where the above extracts are taken.

This is not the first time that energy giants have resorted to spying operations against Greenpeace.

The Sunday Times reported in 2001 that Hakluyt & Company, Ltd., a “British private intelligence agency … staffed almost entirely by ex-intelligence services staff,” hired Manfred Schlickenrieder, a German foreign intelligence operative tasked by the firm to spy on Greenpeace at the behest of oil giants BP and Shell.  (Extracts from the article “When Corporations Spy“)

Titled Shell directors were the founding major shareholders and directors of Hakluyt & Company Ltd and the supposed oversight organisation: The Hakluyt Foundation. Shell directors were the ultimate spymasters.

During this same period my father and I were the subjects of intense spying activity by Shell (and that remains the case). We caught one undercover agent red handed and cornered a Shell UK Director Richard Wiseman into admitting that the spy was working for the company.

At the time, we had no knowledge of Hakluyt and wrote to Sir Peter Holmes in his capacity as a director of Shell Transport & Trading Co complaining about Shell’s uncover spying activities, completely unaware that Sir Peter (now deceased) was a major shareholder in Hakluyt & Company Ltd and President of the Hakluyt Foundation. He did not respond.

We were in fact besieged by sinister undercover activity.

Our own home and the homes of people associated with us, including our solicitor, were all burgled and Shell documents examined, including a document that a Shell lawyer had vowed to obtain, even after the High Court refused to allow Shell access to it.

My family and our witnesses were subjected to threats and intimidation, which got so out of hand that Shell carried out an internal investigation at Shell Mex House.

It was my impression that Mr Wiseman was surprised at what he considered to be an overreaction on our part to Shell’s admitted spying activities. I can only guess that this was because such spying activity – digging for dirt – was commonplace in relation to litigation involving Shell.

As a result of his loyalty, experience and skill, Mr Wiseman was appointed as Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. He retired from the company earlier this year.

Shell spying against us has continued through recent years in an expanded form and now covers the globe in an attempt to identify Shell employees visiting our website from Shell premises and trace people supplying us with insider information. This is confirmed from Shell internal documents we obtained from Shell following a series of applications under the UK Data Protection Act. It is also confirmed from a senior source inside Shell Global Security.

As a result, we have some idea of how the growing number of victims of corporate spying feel.

BBC says Murdoch tabloid spied on Prince William in 2006

Rupert Murdoch newspaper spied on lawyers for phone hacking victims

Murdoch under fire over lawyer spying

Murdoch tabloid spied on victims’ lawyers

News Corp admits spying on hacking lawyers

The dirty history of corporate spying

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Mark Lewis, who has represented victims of phone hacking including the family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, was one of the lawyers targeted. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The News of the World hired a specialist private investigator to run covert surveillance on two of the lawyers representing phone-hacking victims as part of an operation to put pressure on them to stop their work.

(Photo and extracts from Guardian article: News of the World hired investigators to spy on hacking victims’ lawyers)

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