By John Donovan
Commercial intelligence agencies are currently attracting an unwanted spotlight as a result of the dodgy dossier on President-Elect Donald Trump compiled by a former MI6 officer, Christopher Steele. In March 2009, Steele jointly founded a private investigations company, Orbis Business Intelligence.
The Financial Times has just published a related article focussed on a rival London-based private spy firm, Hakluyt & Company, also founded by former MI6 officers. Must be more money in commercial work. Hakluyt is closely associated with Shell.
Titled Shell directors, the late Sir Peter Holmes, and Sir William Purves were also directors, major shareholders and at an early stage, the spymasters of Hakluyt & Company.
Sir Peter (now deceased) was a former Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group and had remained as a non-executive director of Shell Transport and Trading Co. I used to write to him at that time complaining about Shell undercover activity directed at me. I had no inkling about his involvement in that world. How he must have laughed.
Shell used Hakluyt to engage in cloak and dagger operations against its perceived enemies, including Greenpeace, as exposed in a Sunday Times front page lead article.
A Hakluyt undercover agent also engaged in spying operations in Nigeria relating to Ken Saro-Wiwa on behalf of Shell.
During the same period, my family and I were besieged by undercover activity and other sinister events, such as apparently coordinated burglaries at the homes of my solicitor, a key witness and at my own home. Hence my letters to Sir Peter Holmes. Someone obtained access to a letter Shell had unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to in Court.
After being cornered by our lawyers, Shell admitted responsibility for the activities of one undercover agent.
We had some extraordinary correspondence with Hakluyt involving their legal advisor Sir Anthony Hammond and the spy firms co-founder and then Managing Director, Christopher James – another retired senior MI6 officer. Suffice it to say that we were unable to extract a straightforward denial of Hakluyt’s involvement.
As reported by Reuters, Shell recommenced its spying activities against me in more recent years.
All of the unseemly activity is directly at odds with Shell’s claimed business principles.
I note there is mention of former British Intelligence agents mired with Shell in the OPL 245 Nigerian corruption scandal. Wonder if it’s anyone I know?