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Candid testimony of Shell’s Simon Henry about Sir Philip Watts

Q: Do you like Mr. Watts personally? A: It was difficult to like Phil.  He was not a guy you go for a beer with. …he was still running with that chip on his shoulder… He was a guy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Candid (some might say indiscreet) testimony of Simon Henry about the disgraced Shell Group Chairman Sir Philip Watts (shown right).

Extracts from the sworn testimony of Simon Henry to the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission on 19 October 2004 in Washington D.C.

Mr Henry is currently Chief Financial Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Q: With the benefit of hindsight, were there ever instances where you believed Mr. Watts provided the market with incomplete or inaccurate information?

A: With the benefit of hindsight, he answered a lot of questions about Gorgon, and with the benefit of hindsight, they could have been answered differently.

Q: Do you like Mr. Watts personally?

A: Quite an interesting question.  I have difficulty engaging with Phil.  To like somebody generally, you have to engage and share. I mentioned earlier, he was not an individual who shared confidences easily.
     
Q: Do you respect Mr. Watts?

A: Yes, I have respect for his achievements.  I have a lot of respect for the way he dealt with people, he was so focused on the process of getting things right.  He seemed to do the right thing.  He was extraordinarily determined to achieve things.  It was difficult to like Phil.  He was not a guy you go for a beer with. He was also somebody who had achieved a lot coming from a background that he believed did not give him any advantages, and he carried that with him. He could have left that behind when he was about 30, but he was still running with that chip on his shoulder or however you might see it. He was a guy from the wrong side of the tracks.  He was the only guy around the top table, Brit, who was not Oxford or Cambridge.  He carried it. I could relate to that. I have a lot of sympathy for the position he is in, because genuinely, in my opinion, another guy would have left.

Mr Henry also said that Watts is not a numbers man. The same comment he made about Walter van de Vijver. Could explain a lot.

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