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Brent Bravo Deaths: Information supplied today to Shell and the Police

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 17.59.46The first article is attached which I would ask John Donovan if he could kindly print this on his website on 11th September.  In separate correspondence I will pass you the Shell evidence from 1999/2003 which is then cross compared with the prosecution findings and the public inquiry.  In all, 4 or 5 articles will be published which will support the case that Director’s of Shell were culpable in relation to the deaths, and that HSE officials were, by the examination of their own evidence, involved with Misconduct in Public Office. Perhaps the most damaging will be… Shell accepts retention of mentally unstable Manager contributed to offshore deaths…

RECEIVED TODAY FROM MR BILL CAMPBELL, RETIRED HSE GROUP AUDITOR, SHELL INTERNATIONAL. MR CAMPBELL HAS ALSO SENT THE SAME INFORMATION TO ROYAL DUTCH SHELL AND GRAMPIAN POLICE. MR CAMPBELL IS A NORTH SEA EP PLATFORM SAFETY EXPERT, OFTEN CITED IN THE PRESS AND ON TV

By Bill Campbell

We approach the 10 year anniversary of the deaths of Sean McCue and Keith Moncrieff on Brent Bravo on 11 September 2003.  Evidence led at the public Inquiry insinuated they were in part responsible for their own deaths since they carried out work without a permit. During the recent anniversary of Piper Alpha I was approached by a number of journalists to make comment in general re the effectiveness of the safety case regime and I plan to publish a number of articles and provide them with the evidence that they were misled in 2006, a number of journalists lost their jobs, or left their current employer, for daring to go up against the mighty Shell, so I can assure you there is no love lost.  After the investigation by the Procurator Fiscal –

Points on which there is common agreement

We are all agreed that evidence both from a previous Audit in 1999 and from a review carried out by Shell post the fatalities was withheld from the Procurator Fiscal by Shell and by HSE officials in Aberdeen.  Both parliaments are aware of this and that the Procurator Fiscal investigated whether Shell had bribed HSE officials to withhold this evidence.  Anne Currie, the Area Procurator Fiscal, Grampian region, said there was no evidence that HSE had been bribed but rather I assume HSE decided not to provide this evidence on the grounds that it would highlight their failures to protect those offshore by reducing risks. Shell indicated in correspondence copied to the police at the time that they would fully cooperate with The Procurator Fiscals investigation including providing them with their internal investigation findings related to the conduct of Shell Directors in 1999. This investigation found in summary that the behaviour of the said Directors was unacceptable and that there was no evidence that the actions to reduce risk on Brent Bravo were undertaken.  In their opinion this contributed to the deaths.  Further that the Brent Asset Manager had been retained in 1999 despite concerns about his mental health and Stausholm in  explained that from information given to him the Manager was ill, very ill at the time, of diminished responsibility.

Some background on other related matters

Advice given by the Lord President

Some time ago I wrote to the Lord President in a sworn deposition about these matters and his advice given in written reply, was the same as the current First Minister who replied via a PA at the time, in that I should pursue my complaint of serious allegations against the HSE and Shell via the appropriate legal channels by passing any evidence to the Police.  This I did.  But the Police according to their own testimony were never involved, obtained no instructions from the Procurator Fiscal re the evidence received by them.  Legal advice from Scottish government legislators in writing covering allegations of criminal activity both in terms of Culpable Homicide as was, now Culpable Manslaughter in Scotland or Corporate Manslaughter in England, and Misconduct of officials (in this case HSE officials) whilst in public office is as follows

You will be aware; all allegations of criminal activity should be reported to the police in the first instance.  Under the terms of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, Chief Constables are entirely responsible for operational matters affecting their force (including investigating complaints and crimes). When the police receive a complaint about alleged criminal activity they have a duty to investigate the complaint and to decide whether a report should be submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.  Scottish Ministers cannot intervene in such decision.

I have been advised to proceed with a formal complaint about Grampian police handling of all this in 2008/9.  I am reluctant to do this because as far as I am aware the Police acted solely on the instructions of the Fiscal.  That they should not have done so is their Governments opinion but my argument is not with the police.
 
The input of Lord Cullen on receipt of the evidence

Within weeks of my deposition to the Lord President the evidence was provided to Lord Cullen, at his request.  I believe as a direct outcome Cullen published recommended changes to the FAI Scotland Act and relevant to this discussion was that in cases such as Brent Bravo, where by accident or intent, evidence relevant to such an Inquiry is withheld from an Inquiry, fresh proceedings should be held if evidence available, and accepted, would have been likely to affect the determination of the FAI.

Lord Cullen clearly considered that the evidence was relevant to the Brent Bravo FAI, an Inquiry which is bound in section 6 of the Act, to determine what reasonable precautions could have been taken whereby the deaths might have been avoided and the defects in a system of working which contributed to the deaths and any other facts relevant to the circumstances of the deaths.  I will summarise the evidence shortly but the detail is provided in attached bundles.  .

Parliamentary response of the then Lord Advocate to the merits of the evidence

In a written reply to the MSP Christine May the then Lord Advocate Angolini rather than dismiss the evidence merely states that the evidence was clearly about systemic failures of operational safety across the Shell oilfield per se and would have justified a separate Inquiry rather than the specific Brent Bravo FAI which was required to be about the cause of the deaths on Brent Bravo.

So in essence Angolini supports Cullen but says that rather than building upon the FAI that has already taken place fresh proceedings should take the form of a separate inquiry, and you should be aware that Cullen allows for this approach in his recommended changes.
 
Lord Advocate links deaths to circumstances that had existed for a prolonged period of time

She did however qualify this with one example that the unapproved materially defective repair to a pipe on Brent Bravo resulted from, the Haphazard management of pipe repairs by Shell over a prolonged period of time and across the oilfield.  She thus, whether she fully appreciated this or not, links past failures with the deaths, these failures being known about and accepted by Shell Directors in 1999, and not acted upon, but this evidence was not given to the Sheriff.  Such a more general Inquiry was never held.  When asked why, Anne Currie would not comment.

Further, the Sheriff noted in his report that a more general Inquiry may be required into the failure to operate of 16 emergency valves known to be defective by Shell and the effects the large volume of gas entering the enclosed space may have had on the integrity of the structure if it had ignited. No such Inquiry was held. When asked why, Anne Currie would not comment.

Apparent rift between Judiciary and Crown Prosecution Service

My understanding of the situation, and following a letter written to the Sheriff, Colin Harris, at the same time as my contact with the Lord President is that the position of the Judiciary is not as stated by the Procurator Fiscal.  I was informed by Anne Currie that Ernest Barbour attempted to introduce the evidence but it was the Sheriff who declined this evidence.  My allegation is that I seriously doubt if Harris was even aware of the evidence until I contacted him.

Involvement of parliamentary select committee

In 2008 the parliamentary committee with oversight over the HSE published a summary of the evidence against the HSE and Shell without alteration and with no complaint from the HSE about its accuracy or relevance of this evidence. So as far as journalists are concerned these matters are already in the public domain.

Misleading of parliament by HSE officials

Despite all this when 26 MP’s, Jim Cousins, Charlie Kennedy et al raised these issues with the Minister at the Dept of Work and Pensions, included in this list was the then Secretary of State for Scotland, they were informed that all the evidence from 1999 and 2003 had been given to the HSE by me for information only, and in any case was not relevant to the deaths on Brent Bravo.  Geoffrey Podger, the CEO of HSE, told the DWP that he was not aware of the information given by his officials to DWP and he had not authorised it.  One assumes he would not have authorised it because he knew it to be false, after all, it was his investigation into the conduct of the same officials that advised me that they had not discussed the evidence with Ernest Barbour. The Police and the Procurator Fiscal have this documented evidence.  That the HSE lied to the DWP is not in doubt, the HSE were asked by me on 22 May 2005, the letter is held on file by the Fiscal and the Police, to provide the evidence to the Lord Advocate and it is not contentious that they did not.

I have put together the evidence from 1999 through to the fatalities and beyond in the data attached which covers behaviour.  I will use this evidence plus other bundles related to Temporary repairs, and Emergency valves, plus cover-up documentation,  in a number of articles where I will stress that the police have had this evidence for some time and Shell and HSE when asked in the past to deny its authenticity have failed to do so. I would ask for the support of the police and would ask them to take whatever action they deem necessary given the clear and unambiguous role that they have in investigating allegations of criminal activity in Scotland. That is to do what the Scottish government suggest they should have done on the initial receipt of the complaint some years ago.

These articles will use the fully authenticated evidence provided in the attached bundles and the findings of the public inquiry, also details of investigations carried out internally by Shell and HSE, and the post fatalities review carried out by Shell and submitted to HSE in November 2006.  I want to make it clear in the first article which is about behaviour that the documented evidence is not contentious and that Shell given the right to reply has raised no legal objections.

I hope to have these articles published and will copy to journalists who have shown an interest.

The first article is attached which I would ask John Donovan if he could kindly print this on his website on 11th September.  In separate correspondence I will pass you the Shell evidence from 1999/2003 which is then cross compared with the prosecution findings and the public inquiry.  In all, 4 or 5 articles will be published which will support the case that Director’s of Shell were culpable in relation to the deaths, and that HSE officials were, by the examination of their own evidence, involved with Misconduct in Public Office.

Perhaps the most damaging will be

Shell accepts retention of mentally unstable Manager contributed to offshore deaths

the kick-off article is attached

Bill Campbell

ENDS

COMMENT BY JOHN DONOVAN

Along with Royal Dutch Shell (Company Secretary Michiel Brandjes) and the Grampian Police (T/Assistant Chief Constable Crime & Specialist Ops, Billy Gordon), I have received extensive information today from Mr Bill Campbell, including the introductory statement above and the first article that I will publish on 11 September, as Mr Campbell requests (subject of course to any legal intervention by the HSE or Shell).

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