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John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare: Genesis

Extracts from the ebook “John Donovan, Shell’s Nightmare” (now available on Amazon websites globally)

In 1979, our company, Don Marketing supplied promotional games that were used to promote petrol sales on the forecourts of most petrol brands in the UK, including Shell.

In 1981, we moved into a contractual relationship with Shell as a result of a presentation I made at Shell-Mex House in The Strand, the then London HQ of Shell UK Limited.

I put forward a proposal for Shell to launch a legal version of a promotional game called Make Money that Shell had abandoned in the 1960‘s out of concern that it was in breach of UK lottery laws. read more

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. read more

Hakluyt Spy Firm Cyber Offshoot

By John Donovan

I note that the London-based corporate intelligence spy firm Hakluyt closely associated with the dark side of *Shell, including Shell Corporate Affairs Security and Shell Global Security, also operates an expanding offshoot called Hakluyt Cyber Limited. It is unclear whether the offshoot engages in offensive or defensive operations on behalf of its corporate clients, such as Shell. Hakluyt Cyber has been described as a blue chip company.

It is the case that cyber attacks against this website have been investigated by a specialist cyber unit of the UK police. The perpetrators were not caught. By coincidence or otherwise, the attacks ceased briefly each time I brought what was going on to the attention of the Company Secretary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. read more

End to Shell’s involvement in the most controversial infrastructure project in Ireland’s history

Protest event in Ireland during “Shell to Sea” campaign

Joe Brennan: 4 Sept 2017: Extracts from article: “Vayu warns of volatile prices for winter gas”

Ireland imports much of its gas needs through the UK, even though the Corrib field off the Mayo coast, which started production in late 2015, has the potential to meet up to 60 per cent of the country’s gas needs and is expected to supply fuel for up to 20 years. Discovered 21 years ago, the field was dogged by years of opposition before natural gas started flowing almost two years ago. FULL ARTICLE read more

Kiobel Writ: The Dutch battlefront against Shell

For years, Shell encouraged the Nigerian regime to take (more) effective measures designed to ensure Shell’s return to Ogoniland. Shell did this despite the fact that it had meanwhile learned from experience that in its actions, the regime frequently violated human rights and many people were killed.

By John Donovan

Earlier today we published an article about the latest legal moves on behalf on Esther Kiobel in the US courts against a Shell law firm. We now return to the publication of information about her legal action against Shell in the Netherlands. The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.

Extracts begin

8.8 Shell Nigeria Shell operated as a single entity

8.8.1 Introduction read more

Shell Leaked Transformation Plans Part 6

By John Donovan

Published below is a further multi-page segment from Shell’s leaked internal document mentioned in a Reuters/New York Times article published last week: Shell Plans 400 Job Cuts at Dutch Projects and Technology Department. The plans are much greater in scope than suggested by the headline. Their implementation will result in a managerial jobs upheaval and significant job cuts as a consequence of the acquisition of BG Group and the decline in oil prices. Once again, I have left in the page numbers, which appear at the foot of each page and sometimes interrupt paragraphs. read more

Retired Shell official accuses company of ‘more leaks than the White House’

Bill Campbell, retired HSE GROUP AUDITOR, Shell International, comments on Paddy Briggs damning conclusion about Shell FAT CATS

The Lonely Elephant

Prelude may or may not turn out to be a white elephant but certainly from the leaked transformation documents it would appear it will be in any case a lonely elephant. 20 some years in gestation it appears that mega FLNG projects are out. As for the fat cats Paddy if Shell continues to leak (Pernis et al), more leaks than the White House, the fat cats may not be around. Are they taking their eye of the ball – who is running the business, with all this transformation stuff and reported loss of common sense and experience I read about on this website from current employees, it makes you think. read more

Kiobel Writ: Shell bribed witnesses in Ogoni 9 trial

Already during the trial in 1995 two witnesses testified that they had been bribed to make incriminating statements in exchange for money and a job at Shell. In their statements Nkpah and Danwi named a number of other witnesses who were bribed by Shell and the regime…: Separate extract: “We knew that Shell, the prosecutor and the members of the tribunal were working hand in glove with each other. 

By John Donovan

The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.  

Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

Extracts begin

8.6 Shell contributed to the outcome of the Ogoni 9 trial

8.6.1 Shell was involved in the bribery of witnesses

Already during the trial in 1995 two witnesses testified that they had been bribed to make incriminating statements in exchange for money and a job at Shell. Charles Danwi and Naayone Nkpah made a statement under oath on video on 16 and 27 February 1995 respectively, which was submitted as an affidavit to the Civil Disturbances Tribunal.409 The Tribunal however disregarded the evidence. In their statements Nkpah and Danwi named a number of other witnesses who were bribed by Shell and the regime, that is Celestine Meabe, Kevin Badara,410 Limpa Bah, Peter Fii, Saturday Iye and David Keenom (exhibit 45: Public Deposition Naayone Nkpah, 19 March 2004, pp. 19-22; exhibit 21: Affidavit Charles Danwi, 16 February 1995).411 The false statements of these bribed witnesses were decisive in the conviction of the Ogoni 9.412 The statements of Danwi and Nkpah show that shortly after the murders of the traditional Ogoni leaders they were pressured by the main prosecution witnesses Alhaji Kobani (the brother of the murdered Edward Kobani) and Priscilla Vikue413 to sign a false statement in which they accused the since apprehended MOSOP and NYCOP leaders of the murders.414 Initially they refused to do this, whereupon they were placed under house arrest for some time. Danwi testified that he was then promised the following:

“I was promise[d] that after the case in Court I will be given a house any place in the country, a Contract from Shell and OMPADEC and some amount of money to buy my musical instrument. […] On another date of meeting in Kobani’s House, representative from Shell, OMPADEC, security agents, Govt officials and the Kobani, Orage and Badey’s family were present and they all agreed. The family gave some money say that the money come from Govt. and Shell. In my case I was given N 30,000,- from Shell and Govt.”415

  • Nkpah testified to the same effect and in his fuller statement in the American Kiobel case also said who was involved in the bribery. Apart from Alhaji Kobani and some other family members of the murdered Ogoni chiefs, they were also various representatives of the regime and the oil industry, among them Shell’s lawyer O.C.J. Okocha.416 Nkpah was also promised a house, 30,000 naira and a contract at Shell, OMPADEC or the government.417 In his deposition he said that Celestine Meabe had asked Alhaji Kobani where the 30,000 naira came from, to which Kobani replied:

    “This money come from Shell, government of Nigeria. This is why the chairman, the lawyer representative is here.”.418

  • Kobani introduced this Shell lawyer to Nkpah as O.C.J. Okocha.419 Nkpah also said that Kobani had told him that “anything that is being given to us […] basically is from the government and the Shell and Ubadek [OMPADEC]”.420
  •  Just like Danwi, in exchange for signing the false testimony Nkpah was given a job in the transport section of the municipality of Gokana where, in addition to the 30,000 naira, he received a monthly salary without actually being employed.421
  • Gani Fawehinmi, the suspects’ lawyer, introduced Danwi’s statement on the second day of the Ogoni 9 trial (on 21 February 1995):

    “My Lord, he [Charles Danwi] is number 22 on the list of witnesses. He has sworn to an Affidavit and he has exhibited what is called a principal statement. He accused the Government [and] Shell Development Company for bribing him with thirty thousand naira (N30.000) and a house. He has made a full disclosure that what they have was not his statement […].”422

  •  Although Kiobel’s lawyer Alhaji Oso again tried to stress the importance of the bribery on the third day423 and explained that the reliability of the witnesses was the basis of the case,424 Nkpah and Danwi’s affidavits were not admitted as exculpatory evidence.425 At that point, Danwi and Nkpah had already gone into hiding out of fear for repercussions by the regime and could not therefore give evidence to the hearing. Their fear proved to be well-founded: both men were put on the regime’s blacklist.426 Ultimately they were forced to flee Nigeria and they were accepted as refugees in Benin.427
  • Nkpah is currently living in the United States and is prepared to substantiate his statements in detail as a witness if necessary. Danwi’s current whereabouts are unknown.
  • 8.6.2 Shell maintained direct contact with the judges of the Special Tribunal during the trial read more

    The Ogoni 9 trial served to safeguard the common interests of Shell and the Abacha regime

    Shell falsely claimed to be following an apolitical course whilst exerting its influence through quiet diplomacy. In reality, it was very much involved with the course of the events during the trial… Shell’s lawyer was present at the bribing of witnesses who had to give incriminating statements against the “Ogoni 9”; they were offered compensation and a position at Shell;

    By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    Extracts begin

    8.5 The Ogoni 9 trial served to safeguard the common interests of Shell and the regime

    8.5.1 Introduction

    1. The Ogoni 9 trial was the culmination of Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland. With the Ogoni 9 trial Abacha disposed of the Ogoni’s main political representatives in an extreme attempt to finally break the resistance. The trial served a common goal, the resumption of oil extraction in Ogoniland, and followed the ceaseless urging of Shell to bring order to matters. Professor Olubayo Oluduro said about this:“Although Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other eight Ogonis were ostensibly charged and tried for murder, it is obvious to the world that they were actually arrested and executed for expressing their discontent with the environmental harm caused by Shell and the Government in their native Ogoniland.”383
    2. As was explained in chapter 4, the Ogoni 9 trial, which commenced 6 February 1995, was a carefully prepared show trial. The 15 suspects had, when the trial started, already been held in custody for more than eight months without official charge, although it was clear that they had been apprehended on suspicion of involvement in the murder of the four traditional Ogoni leaders on 21 May 1994. Ken Saro-Wiwa, Barinem Kiobel and Baribor Bera did not hear the official charge until 28 January 1995, while Nordu Eawo and Paul Levula received the indictment on 28 February 1995. In this period the hearings of the specially set up Ogoni Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal also started. Footage of these hearings is submitted as exhibit 247. Fragments from them can also be seen in the revealing documentary “In-Remembrance Ken Saro-Wiwa” (exhibit 252).384 The trial would last until 31 October 1995 and end with the death penalty being carried out on nine of the fifteen suspects, who were executed on 10 November 1995. The serious human rights violations to which the suspects were exposed during the trial and that ultimately led to the executions are described in chapter 4.
    1. Because it soon became clear that the suspects would not receive a fair trial and were in fact political prisoners because of their opposition to Shell, all eyes were on the company. Shell falsely claimed to be following an apolitical course whilst exerting its influence through quiet diplomacy. In reality, it was very much involved with the course of the events during the trial, and in the meantime fully dedicating itself to its negotiations with the regime regarding the NLNG project which would be settled at the same time. At no time whatsoever did Shell reveal any dissatisfaction with the course of events, not even when it sent a tepid letter to Abacha just before the execution of the Ogoni 9 with a request for a pardon, for which it had apologised to the regime in advance.385 While Nigeria had by then been internationally degenerated into a pariah state, Shell continued to collaborate with the regime just as intensively.
    2. The fact that Shell’s involvement in the trial went beyond implicit support is evident from the following facts and circumstances, which are explained below:
      •  Shell itself sent a lawyer to the trial, who kept it well informed and supported the position of the prosecutor by means of a so-called watching brief;
      •  Shell lied publicly about the role that its lawyer fulfilled at the trial;
      •  during the trial Shell maintained contacts with the judges who had been appointed to decide on the case;
      •  Shell’s lawyer was present at the bribing of witnesses who had to give incriminating statements against the “Ogoni 9”; they were offered compensation and a position at Shell;
      •  Shell’s protégé Okuntimo played a dominant role during the trial;
      •  at no time did Shell publicly or discretely distance itself from the course of events during the trial;
      • Shell kept emphasising its economic interests to the regime and during the trial negotiated with the regime regarding new projects in Nigeria. One month after the executions the large-scale National Liquid Natural Gas project was announced, by which the collaboration between the regime and Shell was extended for many years.

    8.5.2 Shell sent its lawyer to look after its interests

    281. Shell sent its own lawyer O.C.J. Okocha and his colleagues to the tribunal with a so- called ‘watching brief’. A watching brief in the Nigerian legal system is a way for a third party to keep informed of developments in proceedings in order to safeguard its direct interests in them. To this end the lawyer who has the watching brief usually works closely with the public prosecutor. Nigerian jurisprudence shows that a watching brief may be refused if a party has no interest in the trial: read more

    Kiobel Writ: Shell and the Abacha regime operated a joint intelligence service

    The extent of Shell’s infiltration of Nigerian politics later became clear from the messages from the American embassy in Nigeria published by WikiLeaks. In them Executive Vice President of Shell in Africa at the time, Ann Pickard, boasted to the American ambassador that the Nigerian government had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to every ministry in the Nigerian government and was therefore aware of everything happening there

    By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by volumous evidence.

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    Extracts begin:

    8.4.4 Shell and the regime operated a joint intelligence service

    267. Together with the State Security Service (“SSS”, the national intelligence and security service) Shell maintained its own network of informants. According to George Ukpong, Shell had daily contact with the commissioner of police of Rivers State and the director of the SSS in this period.362 The SSS, according to Upkong, “is one of the security agencies rendering valuable assistance in support of SPDC security operations in the state”; the SSS “has provided assistance in meeting some of our staff training needs” and “has been of particular assistance to [Shell] in the area of crime intelligence acquisition”. read more

    Kiobel Writ: SHELL ARMED THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE

    Shell itself took action to provide the police force with arms. In the period in which the setting up of OPAPCO and the expansion of Shell’s police force were under discussion SPDC’s security adviser Victor Oteri asked the regime for consent to import more than half a million dollars of arms. The order included: – 130 SMG Beretta 9 mm Calibre; – 200,000 Rounds of 9 mm bullets/ammunitions; – 40 Berretta Pistols (to replace unserviceable ones); – Pump Action Shotgun 12 GA, 6 shots including slings – 50,000 rounds cartridges for Pump Action Shot Guns – 20,000 rounds Shotgun rubber bullets; – 500 Smoke Hand Grenades

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts.

    Extracts Begin

    8.4.2 Shell provided vehicles and facilities

    258. It was characteristic of the relationship between Shell and the regime that “for relationship rapport” Shell regularly honoured all kinds of requests from the police and the security service, ranging from the payment of boat repairs to the purchase of air conditioning and office furniture.343 Shell even offered logistical support of its own volition.344 It also regularly paid field allowances for MOPOL345 and – as previously discussed in section 8.2.3 – vehicles and buildings were made available. Shell not only arranged the transport for MOPOL, but it was also common to take care of transport in the situations in which Shell asked the regime for “assistance”, as in the examples referred to sections 8.2.3 and 8.2.4.346 The Nigerian police also remained present in Ogoniland, which by then was already a no-go area for Shell, after 1993, with the aim of protecting Shell property.347 Among other things Shell paid the salaries and the meals of these officers.348 On request Shell provided operational maps to the Nigerian army, displaying all Shell’s activities.349 read more

    Shell complicit in excessively violent action by the Nigerian regime

    Extract: Shell contributed to the ‘Umuechem massacre’: In 1990, Shell’s request to the authorities to terminate a peaceful demonstration in Umechem, a village just outside of Ogoniland, resulted in a two-day long punitive expedition by MOPOL. Dozens of people were killed, even more injured and many hundreds became homeless. Extract: MOPOL returned very early the next day to undertake a punitive expedition in Umuechem. During this expedition, 495 houses were set alight in their entirety. Many people got injured and internal Shell documents as well as a Human Rights Watch report speak of a death toll of 80.

    By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. At the time of all of these horrific events in Nigeria, orchestrated to a large degree by Shell, the oil giant claimed that it was operating within its core business principles, including honesty, integrity, openness and respect for people.  read more

    Kiobel Writ: SHELL COMPLICITY IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

    Shell was repeatedly behind excessively violent action by the regime against the Ogoni and other population groups that were protesting against Shell. During the trial Shell was also in direct contact with the Tribunal judges and Shell’s counsel assisted the regime in bribing witnesses.

    By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts.

    8. SHELL IS COMPLICIT IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST THE OGONI 9 AND THE CLAIMANTS

    8.1 Introduction

    160. As explained in the previous chapter, under Nigerian law encouraging or inciting human rights violations, promoting or contributing to them, sharing in making them possible or facilitating them leads to complicity. read more

    Pipeline opposition to Shell Chemicals’ $6 billion ethane cracker plant in USA

    By John Donovan

    US local newspaper, The Beaver County Times has published several enthusiastic articles welcoming “Shell Chemicals’ $6 billion ethane cracker plant on the banks of the Ohio River” and all of the jobs that will be created.

    Shell’s Corrib gas project in Ireland was welcomed on the same understandable basis by most of the Irish population.

    There is another similarity; opposition on health and safety grounds to the laying of necessary pipelines.

    Shell’s aggressive approach to the relatively few protestors at the beginning of the Corrib project built up resentment and significant determined opposition. Costs escalated out of control  and construction was delayed by a decade. Shell has just  cut its losses by exiting the entire project. read more

    Kiobel Writ: PROCEEDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES

    The defendants were accused of complicity in various human rights violations and crimes committed against the Ogoni in Nigeria, including summary executions, crimes against humanity, torture, inhuman treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, criminally negligent homicide, indecent assault and ill-treatment. In the case against Royal Dutch/Shell it was also argued that the company acted contrary to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. On 8 June 2009, with the trial on the point of starting, Shell and the claimants agreed an out-of-court settlement. Shell paid the claimants a sum of $15.5 million in damages. 

     By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation is provided after the extracts.

    PROCEEDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES

    5.1 Introduction

    120. Following the execution of their husbands, the claimants were subject to constant threats and harassment by the Nigerian regime.162 Esther Kiobel, like many other Nigerians who became victims of Shell and the military regime, resettled in the United States from the refugee camp in Benin. In the United States two groups of victims and surviving dependants demanded damages from Shell in a civil action. The Saro-Wiwa case ended in an out-of-court settlement (see section 5.2). In the case brought by inter alia claimant 1, Esther Kiobel, the American Supreme Court ultimately did not consider that the American courts had jurisdiction to judge the case (see section 5.3). read more

    We warned Shell in 2005 that Corrib would turn into a PR disaster

    By John Donovan

    An article we published on 3rd July 2005 warned in relation to the Corrib Gas project in Ireland: “Do we spy another PR disaster on Shell’s horizon…”

    I went on to warn:

    ..there appears to be all of the ingredients present for another Shell PR disaster…

    At the 2005 Shell AGM, the then Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading Company Lord Oxburgh, was gung-ho about  jailing land owner opponents of the Corrib gas pipeline, who became known as the Rossport Five. read more

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