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‘this isnt James Bond guys’

By John Donovan

Friday 17 August 2007

A contributor to Live Chat has mocked our references to the surreptitious activities of Shell directed us and our website

Once again the contributor is ill informed. We have recent correspondence with Keith Ruddock, General Counsel of Shell EP, confirming Shell’s secret moves against the website. We also have information obtained from Shell under the Data Protection Act which further confirm Shell’s malicious intent and actions already taken.

It is interesting to note that the head of Shell Global Security, Ian Forbes McCredie OBE, is a former senior member of the British Secret Service (MI6).

Shell has admitted (Sunday Times story 17 July 2001) that UNDERCOVER agents acting on its behalf engaged in deception, subversion, infiltration and sabotage during the course of wide-ranging clandestine activity targeted at NGO’s with whom Shell was at loggerheads during the relevant period.

Senior Shell directors were in fact the ultimate spymasters of the UNDERCOVER agents involved in the above sinister covert activities. Shell and the spy firm Hakluyt & Company Limited, set up by former MI6 officers’, shared common directors and shareholders. We have documents from Companies House as proof.

The list of directors and other individuals associated with Hakluyt reads like a roll call of the UK establishment – a cavalcade of titled elite including many individuals with a military background. Members of Parliament have identified Hakluyt as being the commercial arm of the British Secret Service. 

The campaigning by my father, Alfred Donovan and I, against Shell, made us prime targets for Shell sponsored undercover activity. 

It all went wrong for Shell in our case when we caught one Shell UNDERCOVER agent (“Christopher Phillips”) red-handed engaging in dishonest activity on Shell’s behalf; this involved blatant deception, using fake credentials and tampering with private mail.  He was but one of a number of individuals who engaged in subterfuge when contacting our solicitor, our witnesses and office staff in connection with a court case we brought against Shell UK Limited. Shell and its lawyers have admitted in writing the “activities” of “Mr Phillips”.

When we complained to Shell about the activities of “Christopher Phillips”, rather than being shamefaced, a lawyer acting for Shell, Mr Colin Joseph, the then senior partner of Kendall Freeman, stated in writing that other agents had been retained on our case. Despite requests from our solicitors, Shell lawyers would not disclose the scope of the brief given to their agents and also refused to disclose the number of agents involved. There could be only one explanation for Mr Joseph making this point: outright intimidation. 

By co-incidence or otherwise, threats were made during the same period against our family and our witnesses by an individual who proved that he had inside knowledge of the litigation. He gave us advance notice of actions which Shell subsequently took. This strategy was clearly designed to substantiate his credibility and therefore the veracity of the threats which he made against our family and our witnesses. 

The Police investigated the witness intimidation and highly suspicious series of burglaries at our home, the home of our solicitor in Croydon, and the residence of a key witness in Norfolk. The Police carried out interviews at Shell HQ in London. Shell also carried out its own internal investigation as confirmed in writing by Shell.

At the time we and the Police were unaware of the Shell/Hakluyt partnership, or that it was secretly engaged on a widespread basis in the same type of cloak and dagger activity which was directed at us. How could we or the Police have possibly guessed that senior titled Shell directors were the ultimate spymasters of a shadowy spy firm, Hakluyt?

Cost was clearly not a concern as in one instance an American by the name of ***** ****** arrived from overseas under cover of being an investigative reporter working on a story for “The European”. We later discovered from the editor of the newspaper that this was false. During his mission Mr ****** interviewed my sons solicitor, plus key witnesses, one of which he traced within 24 hours although we had not provided any contact details. Mr ****** then departed the UK. After making overseas enquiries, The Guardian newspaper determined that Mr ****** is a “spook”. In fact we now have incontrovertible documentary evidence of his involvement with the US Intelligence community. The clinching evidence, obtained from the US National Security archive, only came to light as a result of the US Freedom of Information Act.   

The name of the person who falsely claimed to be working on a story for The European has been removed from this website for security reasons. This action was taken after he contacted us claiming that being named on our website put him and his family in danger. We have the correspondence.

It is therefore interesting in relation to Mr ****** to note that: –

(1) A Hakluyt director is on record as stating that it is their normal modus operandi to bring in operatives from overseas to engage in spying/intelligence gathering activities. The undercover agents then conveniently leave the legal jurisdiction in which such activities have taken place.  

(2) Hakluyt often uses serving secret service agents who carry out freelance assignments. This was the case in respect of The Sunday Times story. 

Mr ******* was not the only “investigative reporter” using fake credentials to gain information. “Mr Daniel Wilson” spoke to our solicitor on the basis of being a Daily Express journalist. This again was later found to be an entirely false claim. 

In at least two of the burglaries, documents were sought out and tampered with. This included a privileged document which had been the subject of an unsuccessful Court application by Shell lawyers. Kendall Freeman senior partner, Mr Colin Joseph, had vowed after the hearing that he would obtain it. Perhaps it was purely coincidental that his firm represented the Harrods boss, Mohamed Fayed, in the libel action brought against him by Neil Hamilton, the former MP. Hamilton lost the case and then (unsuccessfully) appealed the decision after it was discovered that documents had been stolen from his premises prior to the case coming to Court. The documents had been passed to Mohamed Fayed who used them to his advantage during the trial.   

What Shell has admitted: Shell and its lawyers have admitted in writing that Mr Christopher Phillips was retained on behalf of Shell. It also admitted its association with the Hakluyt freelance agent and serving member of the German Secret Service, Manfred Schlickenrieder, who engaged in deception, sabotage and infiltration in a number of Countries on Shell’s behalf, including Nigeria. This was in relation to the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nobel Laureate hanged by the then Nigerian military regime for peacefully opposing Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta. Shell has also admitted that its activities have contributed to the corruption and violence in Nigeria. Shell has paid $150 million (US) in fines agreed with financial regulators in respect of the supply of false information to the financial markets concerning its oil and gas reserves. It has settled a number of related class action lawsuits and has set aside $500 to settle the remaining action.

All of this conduct is entirely at odds with Shell management’s “core principles” in its Statement of General Business Principles pledging “honesty, integrity and openness in all of its dealings”. It is important to note that there is a pattern in Shell’s admittances. They are only made when evidence of wrongdoing is so overwhelming that Shell cannot make plausible denials.

What Shell has denied: Shell has categorically denied any association with the burglaries, with Mr ******, or in regards to any intimidation against us. Shell has ignored all questions and indeed any reference to its close association with Hakluyt: for some reason that appears to be a taboo subject. We wonder why? 


It is understandable that being in the spook trade, Hakluyt naturally keeps a low public profile. We did however manage to penetrate the veil of secrecy to some extent when we communicated with Hakluyt by phone, fax and email. We wrote to its Managing Director, Mr Christopher James, formerly (or currently) a senior MI6 Officer. He co-founded the spy firm along with the late Sir Fitzroy Maclean (on whom the “James Bond” character is supposedly based) and Mike Reynolds, who founded MI6’s counterterrorism branch (and was once “head of station” in Berlin). At the time of its launch, Hakluyt (according to its directors) had the blessing of the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, popularly known as “C” and reportedly a close friend of Mr Reynolds.  

You can imagine our surprise when we received an email response from a lawyer at The Church of England’s legal department. He was initially completely baffled why Hakluyt had relayed our letter to his department but it turned out that it was meant to reach Sir Anthony Hammond QC, Standing Counsel to the General Synod of the Church of English while also being chief legal advisor to Hakluyt (and a director of the spy firm). This struck us as being a novel combination of interests – on the one side a beacon of light, goodness, hope and redemption and on the other, an international practitioner of the black arts; espionage, subversion, infiltration, deception, etc. 

We subsequently received a carefully drafted letter from Mr James which on casual inspection appears to deny any involvement by Hakluyt but actually only indicates that Mr James had no personal knowledge of any such involvement. We pointed this lawyerly escape clause out to Mr James but received no further clarification. His response would have obviously carried more weight if he had simply stated that Hakluyt had no involvement in our case. That is an answer Hakluyt cannot or will not give. 

Commonsense suggests that Shell management would be more likely to use what was in effect an in-house resource than calling in one of the other spy/risk consultancy firms, such as Kroll Associates (although this cannot be ruled out). 

Coincidentally we received a letter from Mr Alistair Corbett, Clerk to the Intelligence and Security Committee advising that Rt. Hon. Ann Taylor MP, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee intended to bring to the attention of her Committee colleagues a letter we had sent to every MP entitled “Hakluyt – The Commercial Arm of MI6?” We advised Mr Corbett of the bizarre developments with the Church of England and Sir Anthony Hammond bearing in mind that his Committee has oversight responsibility in respect of UK security agencies. At this point Mr Corbett’s tone in correspondence suddenly became decidedly hostile. Mr Corbett claimed that his committee did not enter into correspondence, even though the Intelligence and Security Committee instigated the correspondence with us. We never even knew it existed until we heard from them much to our surprise.  (We retain all of the correspondence)

If we had known that we were taking on not only the Royal Dutch Shell Group, but also the British Establishment and possibly the British Secret Service, we might have thought better of suing Shell six times in the UK High Court (two for libel) and relentlessly campaigning against the oil giant. Shell continues to pay a price; our activities have cost Shell billions and brought about the resignation of a Shell Managing Director. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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