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Shell defamatory posters, leaflets and press releases attacking Donovan

By John Donovan

My families falling out with Shell took place over two decades ago.

Some indication of the degree of acrimony can be gauged from the content of posters Shell put on public display on 23 September 1998 at the Shell Centre in London, specifically targeting my father and me. I have never heard of a multinational corporation doing anything like this before or since.

This is what the posters said:

YOU MAY BE HANDED A LEAFLET OUTSIDE SHELL CENTRE BY MR ALFRED DONOVAN, FORMALLY OF A COMPANY CALLED DON MARKETING UK LIMITED.  YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT JOHN DONOVAN, A DIRECTOR OF DON MARKETING UK LIMITED, MR ALFRED DONOVAN’S SON, HAS ISSUED A WRIT AGAINST SHELL UK CLAIMING THAT HIS COMPANY INVENTED THE SMART LOYALTY CARD PROGRAMME.  MR DONOVAN’S ALLEGATIONS HAVE BEEN VERY CAREFULLY INVESTIGATED BY SHELL UK AND DISCUSSED IN DETAIL WITH MR DONOVAN AND HIS SOLICITORS. THE CLAIM IS BEING VIGOROUSLY DEFENDED.  AS SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW, MR DONOVAN HAS MADE SOME OFFENSIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT SHELL UK COLLEAGUES. WE REJECT SUCH ALLEGATIONS ABSOLUTELY AND ARE WHOLLY CONFIDENT THAT OUR COLLEAGUES HAVE ACTED IN THIS MATTER AT ALL TIMES IN GOOD FAITH AND IN LINE WITH OUR LONG STANDING BUSINESS PRINCIPLES.

23RD SEPTEMBER 1998 PXX COMMUNICATIONS

ENDS

We sued Shell for libel based on related allegations they published in various press releases and in a leaflet distributed at Shell’s main offices in the UK and the Netherlands. Shell settled two libel actions and four related high court actions for breach of contract and confidentiality. In other words, SIX high court actions in all. In 2005, Shell also came unstuck in litigation it launched against my father in a failed attempt to seize the domain names royaldutchshellplc.com and royaldutchshellgroup.com.

After settling the first three high court actions, Shell UK CEO/Chairman Dr Chris Fay sent me an unsolicited letter of apology for the way we had been treated by Shell.

Unfortunately, because Shell decided to steal another business idea we had also disclosed to the company in strictest confidence (Shell SMART), we had to sue again.

The final high court settlement details (in which a secret payment was made to me) were deliberately withheld from the judge by Shell. He was left with a false impression about the settlement terms. The same applies to information Shell has given ever since to its own employees who are all treated like gullible fools in relation to these matters.

Read here Shell’s defamatory allegations in press releases, an article by a Shell Legal  Director and leaflets Shell distributed in the reception areas at Shell-Mex House and the Shell Centre in London and at the central offices of Royal Dutch Petroleum in The Hague. The Legal Directors article was published in a Shell internal magazine without our knowledge. Shell failed to disclose its existence and other related important information during the discovery process. Shell also buried incriminating evidence in a mountain of Shell discovery documents having no possible bearing on the relevant litigation.

Tactics that I have come to expect from Shell senior management, which routinely flout Shell’s much proclaimed “long standing business principles”.  e.g. the reserves fraud, Brent Bravo scandal, Ogoni 9 murder, Sakhalin2 debacle, Corrib Gas Project and OPL 245 corruption scandals etc.

The faces change over the years, but the smoke, mirrors and cover-up culture persists. All supported by an army of lawyers and internal and external spooks.

Although Shell settled all of the cases it was under inappropriate circumstances with the use of undercover activity and a constant bombardment of threats.

Hence my continued campaigning for Shell management to either scrap its claimed business principles, or abide with them at all times and enforce them.

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