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The bad sport who rained on Shell’s unification parade

ShellNews.net: Who is the bad sport raining on Shell’s unification parade? Which veteran Shell shareholder has dampened the biggest Corporate Overhaul in Shell’s history? The answer: Alfred Donovan, the 88 year old Shell AGM party pooper. Why has he embarrassed the hell out of Shell for over decade?

Saturday 25 June 2005

In a recent Wall Street Journal article (“Shell wages legal fight over web domain name”) staff reporter, Chip Cummins, described as a “rare coup”, Alfred Donovan’s registration of the domain name “royaldutchshellplc.com”.

News of Shell’s huge embarrassment on the eve of its unification dual AGM’s in The Hague and London has spread in newspapers and websites around the globe, with coverage in The Wall Street Journal, The London Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Gulf-Times in Qatar, plus Reuters, Yahoo! News, MSN Money, etc on the Internet. There has also been coverage in Russia, Germany, and countless news stories in the Netherlands, where the HQ of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company is located. The Reuters story (“Shell shareholders to back unification”) says that Mr Donovan “beat Shell to register the domain name”.

SHELL’S ALL OUT LEGAL ASSAULT ON THE WEBSITE

In addition to the legal proceedings brought by Shell International Petroleum Company in respect of the domain name, Mr Donovan’s website is also the subject on a Malaysian High Court Injunction by eight companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group. This is in respect of Shell’s libel action against a Shell whistleblower, Dr John Huong, a former Shell geologist of almost 30 years standing, some of whose disclosures about Shell have been published on Mr Donovan’s website.

In legal proceedings held in Miri, Malaysia last week, Shell alleged that comments by Dr Huong posted on Mr Donovan’s website contained “scurrilous and malicious attacks on the Company and the Shell group of companies by falsely alleging… deception, dishonesty in dealings (including dealing with employees), corrupt practices, lies… conspiracy in victimizing employees”. The relevant court action (reported in the Malaysian press) has been adjourned until November. Mr Donovan counters that there is no defamation if allegations are true. He also alleges that deception and deceit were hallmarks of the recent reserves scandal which destroyed Shell’s reputation and points out that the Reuters story confirms that a criminal investigation by the US Justice Department is still underway. Shell has already paid some $150 million in fines to the financial regulatory authorities in relation to the reserves debacle.

As a result of the massive legal assault by Shell, which has captured the attention of the global media Alfred Donovan, who fought in the Burma Campaign against the Japanese 6o years ago, is now the most famous cyberspace warrior on the planet.

PAST LITIGATION WITH SHELL

Mr Donovan and his son John have sued Shell in the UK High Courts on six separate occasions – four times for breach of confidence and/or breach of contract and TWICE for libel. The score? 5 wins (settled by Shell for around $700,000 US). Plus a “stalemate”, announced in a so called “joint press release” (in relation to the “Shell Smart” litigation) allegedly designed to conceal the true settlement terms from Shell shareholders and the public. Mr Donovan claims that in fact Shell paid ALL of the “Shell Smart” legal fees and that his son also received a secret payment.

Mr Donovan alleges that his dealings with Shell for over a decade have been characterised by cover-up and deceit on the part of Shell senior management – the same individuals he says were responsible for the reserves scandal. Relevant agreements which he claims were designed to hide the truth from Shell shareholders are published on his website. The legal documents are signed by Shell directors.

WHAT NEXT IN THE DOMAIN NAME BATTLE

The case is currently with the World Intellectual Property Organisation and a decision by adjudicators appointed by the WIPO is likely within about 6 weeks. The losing party then has 14 days after being advised of the panels decision to file court proceedings to effectively appeal the result.

Mr Donovan says that he has never attempted to sell any Shell related domain name to the Royal Dutch Shell Group and has no intention of doing so now or in the future, if he successfully retains the domain name. He enjoys his low cost platform from which to express his views about Shell. He also promises new “free speech” surprises for Shell management next week.

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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