“I confirm that in my experience Shell UK operates oppressively against small business people. Its staff has acted unscrupulously and possibly illegally. The tactics of Shell UK management is completely opposite to the honesty and integrity promised by Shell in its code of ethics.”
By John Donovan
At the 1999 Shell AGM in London, Malcolm Brinded (above) rather surprisingly walked over and introduced himself to me. We had corresponded, but never met. At the time he had just taken over as Country Chairman of Shell UK.
I managed to corner him into setting up an informal meeting at the AGM between Shell executives, including Brinded and Group Chairman Mark Moody-Stuart, with a group of thoroughly disgruntled Shell UK service station retailers, to whom I had supplied shareholder passes to gain entry.
During the impromptu meeting, Mr Brinded expressed concern and said that he would investigate the various serious allegations made. Unfortunately it all turned out to be empty promises. Mr Brinded decided it best to hide behind a firewall of Shell lawyers.
This became his standard practice when other scandals were uncovered – a corrupted tender for a major contract; the reserves fraud (when he signed Form 20F returns containing false information) and the Brent Bravo “avoidable accident,” when offshore workers lost their lives due to a corrupted safety regime.
Litigation went on for years during the tenure of Brinded as Shell UK Chairman, until the funds of the person leading the Shell retailer rebellion, Sheila Gee, were completely drained.
Rather than set out the overall grievances, a letter sent to Moody-Stuart by one of the retailers in the group, Mr Pat Bradshaw, a former police officer is accessible here. Sadly Mr Bradshaw passed away from a heart attack. The stress from his dealings with Shell contributed to his untimely demise.
A RELATED LETTER RECEIVED FROM FORMER SHELL AGENT OPERATOR SHEILA GEE
Dear Mr Donovan
THE UNETHICAL CLEANSING OF SHELL UK AGENT OPERATORS
I have just read your leaflet entitled RETURN OF THE ROBBER BARONS.
My husband and I have been Shell station operators for 5½ years up until 31st March 1999. Along with many other operators, our site has been taken over by Shell and is now being directly managed by them.
We suffered substantial losses from August 1998 when the new operating contracts came in. The new terms imposed by Shell made it impossible to conduct our business on a profitable basis. I am aware that many other operators have also been forced out of business by Shell. I understand that you will be publishing letters from some of them in coming weeks.
My husband and I experienced the Bully Boy Tactic mentioned in your leaflet. The Shell Regional Manager, Mr Stephen Gregory, came on to our site and issued a 48-hour ultimatum. We were told to comply with his edict or we would be out immediately. Such ruthless conduct must be immoral.
I confirm that in my experience Shell UK operates oppressively against small business people. Its staff has acted unscrupulously and possibly illegally. The tactics of Shell UK management is completely opposite to the honesty and integrity promised by Shell in its code of ethics.
Shell seems to think that it is so all-powerful that it can steamroller over any small business people who complain about its scandalous business practices.
How dare they spend £25 million on a public relations campaign to promote Shells reputation when they treat people so appallingly. I understand that the Shell Shareholders Organisation intends to ask the Advertising Standards Authority to investigate Shells campaign on the grounds that the public is being misled about Shells integrity. A number of former Agent Operators, including my husband and I, will be pleased to supply evidence to an ASA investigation.
I also intend to take my case up in person with Shell Chairman, Mr Mark Moody-Stuart, at the forthcoming Shell Annual General Meeting. Several other former Shell Agent Operators will also be in attendance to protest in the strongest terms against the wicked policies of Shell, which have driven many other decent hardworking people and us to despair and destitution.