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Daily Express: Boss in Shell scandal starts legal fightback

Daily Express (UK): Boss in Shell scandal starts legal fightback

“… Watts’ counsel, David Pannick, claimed Watts could be easily identified by any “reasonable reader”. This was because the notice referred to Shell’s annual report, signed off by Watts, which contained false reserves statements, and to a Shell-commissioned report into the scandal, naming him among others. This had led to “contemptuous press coverage”.

Published by Daily Express 26 July 2005

By Andrew Johnson

SIR PHILIP WATTS, ousted as Shell’s boss in the oil reserves scandal, yesterday fired the opening shot against the Financial Services Authority in the fight to clear his name.

His lawyers told a preliminary hearing of the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal the City watchdog had infringed his rights by identifying him in a potentially damaging way when explaining why it had fined Shell £17million for market abuse. He should have been given an advance look at the notice to answer criticisms, they said.

This is the latest challenge to the FSA’s authority after its defeat last year hi a mortgage mis-selling row with Legal & General that sparked criticism by Prime Minister Tony Blair of the watchdog’s practices.

Watts wants the FSA to withdraw the notice and to be able, if he wins, to take it to a full tribunal hearing where he can directly address the criticism of him for the first time in public

The FSA claims the notice did not identify Watts and its criticism, including those of Shell’s slack controls, referred only to the company.

Lord Grabiner, for the FSA, said the notice did not refer to Watts by name nor job title, and did not ask any of the questions likely if he was directly hi the spotlight. Watts had brought the hearing because he was “frustrated” with the media coverage, he said.

But Watts’ counsel, David Pannick, claimed Watts could be easily identified by any “reasonable reader”. This was because the notice referred to Shell’s annual report, signed off by Watts, which contained false reserves statements, and to a Shell-commissioned report into the scandal, naming him among others. This had led to “contemptuous press coverage”.

Watts continues to be investigated by the FSA for his personal role in the scandal

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