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Financial Times: David Greer Memo

DISCUSSION & POLLS: Is this the worst motivational memo ever?

By John Donovan 12 Jun 2007  01:02 AM

I am the joint-owner with my father Alfred Donovan of the website referred to by Ed Crooks as being anti-Shell.

We are in fact dedicated supporters of Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles pledging honesty, integrity and transparency in all of Shell’s dealings.

We rang alarm bells far and wide about the failure of Shell senior executives to abide with the SGBP long before the reserves crisis which brought about the end of Shell in its former guise. We warned about a deeply ingrained culture of deceit and cover-up only to be proved right by subsequent events resulting in regulatory fines of $150 million and huge settlements of class action litigation.

We receive many leaked Shell internal documents – the most recent being the now notorious David Greer memo. Contrary to the assertion made by one contributor to the FT Greer memo debate, we do not publish recklessly. As the FT is aware, we obtained confirmation from a Shell General Counsel that the email was authentic before passing it on to the FT and publishing it ourselves. Consequently that allegation is entirely unfounded.

It is our routine practice to approach Shell on such matters. Shell has a standing invitation to supply for publication on an unedited basis any comments they might wish to make on any article published by us.

The Literary Dictionary of the Oxford University Press has the following definition for plagiarism:

“…the theft of ideas (such as the plots of narrative or dramatic works) or of written passages or works, where these are passed off as one’s own work without acknowledgment of their true origin; or a piece of writing thus stolen. Plagiarism is not always easily separable from imitation, adaptation, or pastiche, but is usually distinguished by its dishonest intention. A person practising this form of literary theft is a plagiarist. The older term plagiary was applied both to plagiarisms and to plagiarists.”

I have never come across a more blatant example of plagiarism than is the case with Mr Greer’s memo. His conduct appears to be directly at odds with Shell’s code of ethics: the aforementioned SGBP.

I note that Time magazine website featured a quote of Mr Greer’s inspirational memo, presumably before learning that the stirring words were not his, but General George S. Patton.

Irrespective of any sanction by Shell, this embarrassment is likely to stay with “General” Greer for the rest of his days.

It was naive of him to think that in the internet age such an extraordinary internal email, awash with such gung-ho content and circulated to numerous employees, would not quickly reach a larger unintended audience.

Posted by John Donovan of the website

[email protected]


Ed Crooks and the David Greer Memo

by John Donovan 12 Jun 2007  03:59 PM
Ed Crooks has quite correctly pointed out that contrary to my assertion, he did not describe our website as being “anti-Shell”.

This in fact was a description used by The Moscow Times in their front page story on Saturday which contained the following paragraph: “Greer’s memo, which was leaked to an anti-Shell web site,, appears to show the pressure that he and his fellow managers have been under, as it talks of “the risk of becoming a team that doesn’t want to fight and lacks confidence in its own ability.”

My sincere apologises to Mr Crooks for my silly mistake made in the early hours.

In contrast with David Greer, mine was an honest error which I have owned up to and apologised

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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