Despite his scandal-ridden record at Shell, Chris Finlayson was recently appointed as Chief Executive of BG Group plc. We have already published articles relating to his involvement in the Shell reserves fraud and his time as head of Shell in Russia, when he played a starring role in the Sakhalin 2 debacle, which cost Shell untold billions. This article takes us back even further, to his time as a director of Shell’s North Sea operations and his involvement in the notorious “TOUCH FUCK ALL” policy…
CHRIS FINLAYSON’S SCANDAL-RIDDEN TIME AT SHELL: ONE CAN OF WORMS AFTER ANOTHER
By John Donovan
Despite his scandal-ridden record at Shell, Chris Finlayson was recently appointed as Chief Executive of BG Group plc.
We have already published articles relating to his involvement in the Shell reserves fraud and his time as head of Shell in Russia, when he played a starring role in the Sakhalin 2 debacle, which cost Shell untold billions.
This article takes us back even further, to his time as a director of Shell’s North Sea operations and his involvement in the notorious “TOUCH FUCK ALL” policy adopted by Shell Expro, which ruthlessly put production and profits before the safety of employees.
Shell management and offshore workers used the acronym TFA – TOUCH FUCK ALL – to describe among themselves the need not to meddle with equipment but keep things working. This description comes from an article published by the Guardian, which relied on information and evidence supplied by a Shell whistleblower, Mr Bill Campbell, a retired HSE Group Auditor of Shell International.
Mr Campbell, a meticulous man of the highest integrity, led a team which in 1999 carried out a safety audit on Shell North Sea platforms including Brent Bravo. Apart from revealing the astonishing TOUCH FUCK ALL policy, his team also found that safety critical records had been routinely falsified.
The Malcolm Brinded/Chris Finlayson Expro management team promised to take required remedial action, but failed to do so and as a direct consequence, lives were lost in a subsequent explosion on the Brent Bravo platform. Shell received a record breaking fine for what was deemed to be an avoidable accident.
As we will see, Mr Campbell believes that it was a much more serious matter and that Shell escaped due retribution because crucial evidence was not taken into consideration.
He has accused Royal Dutch Shell management of lies, deception and hypocrisy, covering-up their failings in 1999 and their personal culpability for the deaths of two men on 11th September 2003.
The story was told in a series of eight articles published in 2006 by Upstream Online, in which the name of Chris Finlayson appears prominently (nine times). It was alleged that the top directors of Shell Expro in Aberdeen, including Finlayson, sanctioned the TOUCH FUCK ALL policy. That Finlayson and his then boss Malcolm Brinded, failed to act on safety concerns, ran an operation where production took priority over safety and ignored red danger signals.
Mr Campbell authored a document entitled The Evidence Against Shell containing many references to Chris Finlayson. Campbell says that Shell Expro directors purposely deceived the HSE, the media and Shell Expro employees about the true effects of the TOUCH FUCK ALL instruction. He cites as one example, an explanation of the TOUCH FUCK ALL policy given by Finlayson to BBC Scotland in September 1999. The comments made by Finlayson are included in his document. Campbell claims Finlayson has subsequently admitted that at the time, he had given false and misleading information to the workforce, to the press, and wider society. Bill Campbell also repeatedly accuses Finlayson and Brinded of criminal neglect, which he says contributed to the deaths on Brent Bravo in 2003. Mr Campbell provides detailed evidence to support his conclusions.
In 2007 Shell lawyers became aware that Bill Campbell was in contact with me about TFA, Brinded and Finlayson. In a horrified panic, Shell EP General Counsel Keith Ruddock contacted Mr Campbell’s solicitors trying to stop related information being published on this website.
“As it appears that this material has been provided to him by Mr Campbell, I would ask you to consider urgently with your client whether publication of this material on the Donovan website in this manner is really in the best interests of furthering Mr Campbell’s case with Shell and of helping continue the constructive dialogue which we have been undertaking in good faith with him.”
When the overtures failed, Shell promptly set up a crisis reaction/counter measures team. A related Shell email widely circulated internally on 9 March 2007 mentioned a strategy of trying to “detach Campbell from the Donovans.” The tone was decidedly aggressive. Within days, Shell internal spooks set up a global spying operation trying to cut me off from from Shell insider sources. Within weeks, Shell succeeded in a covert move to shut down our website. I cornered Mr Ruddock into confirming in writing that Shell was the source of the threats which had frightened our hosting companies into briefly shutting us down.
We have the Shell internal correspondence and emails from the hosting companies to prove all of this (available on request to mainstream media).
The TOUCH FUCK ALL policy was of course toxic in regard to the reputation of Shell. Hence the panic stricken measures and reprisals.
Mr Brinded was eventually ousted from Shell. Finlayson has moved on to BG Group, whose employees may, after learning about his past misadventures, have some trepidation about the future at BG Group under his management.
It is notable that none of the former Shell Expro senior management who have been named and shamed by Bill Campbell have taken legal action challenging his comments about them. If untrue, the comments would be seriously defamatory. It speaks volumes that no such action has been taken by any of them or by Shell. There can be no defamation if what is alleged is true.
The Guardian: Shell accused over oil rig safety: 23 June 2006
http://www.shell2004.com/2007/upstream-online-brent-bravo-articles.html Eight UpstreamOnline articles
What is going on in Brindeds inner circle?: 14 July 2010
Whistleblower accuses Shell Executive Director, Malcolm Brinded 16 February 2012