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Throwing mud at Shell (updated)

By John Donovan

The following comment was posted on our Live Chat facility on Saturday 1st March 2008.

Guest 1389: Mr. Donovan – what sort of journalistic bias and dribble makes you attach the so called $500K bribe in the headline from the Wall Street Times on Prince Jefri of Brunei. If I was the writer of the article (Mark Meremont) I’d be most annoyed. You don’t even bother to explain the asterisk upfront. Again you add any items to your story that you feel can throw mud at Shell. I suggest you improve your journalistic skills before getting yourself sued.

Your first mistake is in assuming that I am a journalist. A more accurate description would be a jumped up blogger. Regular visitors to this website will be aware that I often add Shell related comments to the headlines, as I did on this occasion when I stated: “*$500,000 Shell bribe was given to this corrupt family”.

I provided at the foot of the WSJ article a link to a number of articles covering the $500.000 “gift” given by Shell to the Sultan of Brunei, the brother of Prince Jefri. The purpose of the $500.000 “gift” was undoubtedly to buy influence. Hence it can in my judgment accurately be described as a bribe. The payment of bribes is supposedly prohibited by Shell’s business principles.

As to being sued, please leave me to be the judge on that subject as I almost certainly have more experience with libel and other litigation involving Shell. I was for example cross-examined under oath over three days by a leading barrister representing Shell, Geoffrey Hobbs QC. He is said to be the cleverest man in Britain, though that was not my impression.

Shell has never sued me for libel. It is the other way round. My libel case was settled with me receiving a secret payment from Shell not even disclosed to the trial judge, Mr Justice Laddie, who undermined his credibility and reputation after displaying blatant bias in favour of Shell. Professor Sir Hugh Laddie QC, as he is now known, resigned by co-incidence or otherwise after we wrote a letter to the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer pointing out certain matters, including that the Judge had not disclosed a commercial relationship connected to Shell chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and his family. This was despite the fact that the Judge was aware that Lady Judy Moody-Stuart had personally intervened in the matters before the court.   

The former Judge, who resigned in controversial circumstances, now works for a law consultancy which has Shell as a client. He has also been involved in a commercial project with Richard Wiseman, the Legal Director of Shell who represented Shell in court throughout the three week trial which cost Shell over $2 million in legal fees (Shell paid my costs). My father, Alfred Donovan, also sued Shell for libel. Shell settled his action with a large secret payment. A confidentiality agreement was designed to withhold information from Shell shareholders.

Wiseman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Jyoti Munsiff, the then Company Secretary of Shell Transport & Trading Company Plc, all conspired to prevent the relevant settlement terms from being disclosed to Shell shareholders. I have the correspondence to prove this.

We have made many allegations against Shell senior management and we stand by every one of them.

Let me give some further examples.


During the course of our litigation with Shell we found in the mountain of discovery documents supplied to us, evidence of how Shell UK management had carried out a dishonest tender process for a major contract. Companies were deliberately cheated and tricked by Shell as part of a carefully planned and executed conspiracy involving Shell UK managers. The contract was awarded to a company that was not even in the tendering process. The mastermind behind the conspiracy had a personal relationship with the company which miraculously won a race in which it had not participated. He also had an offshore bank account.

We gave this astonishing information to every director of Shell UK, Shell Transport and Royal Dutch Petroleum, including Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Sir Philip Watts, Maarten van den Bergh, Van der Veer and Malcolm Brinded. They ignored the evidence and the relevant discredited managers remained employed by Shell. There was a collective disregard by Shell executives of the solemn pledges contained in Shell’s STATEMENT OF GENERAL BUSINESS PRINCIPLES.

As a result, we rung the alarm bells far and wide about the dishonesty of Shell management but our warnings were ignored. The reserves fraud followed which has already cost Shell over a billion dollars in fines and litigation settlements.

Peter Voser was subsequently brought in as part of a supposed new management team to restore Shell’s decimated reputation. In fact Voser had spent most of his career at Shell and was simply rejoining the same gang of incompetent unscrupulous con-artists, all of whom are indemnified so that they receive multi-million dollar payoffs even if caught lying and cheating Shell shareholders e.g. Sir Philip Watts. 

Voser is currently up to his neck in a financial crisis/meltdown at UBS bank caused by the sub-prime scandal. UBS is being sued for a related fraud by another financial institution. Voser, a contender to take over from Van der Veer on his retirement as Shell CEO in June next year, is Chief Financial Officer of Shell, as well as being a director of UBS. He seems to have all the necessary qualifications to be boss of bosses at Royal Dutch Shell.

Financial Times: HSH lawsuit claims UBS ‘acted fraudulently’ (*Shell CFO Peter Voser is a director of UBS)

Van der Veer and Brinded are implicated in other scandals including the Corrib pipeline debacle in Ireland, the Sakhalin-2 mega-project in Russia and the Brent Bravo North Sea platform scandal. In the latter case, Shell employees lost their lives when Brinded neglected to take adequate remedial action after a “Touch Fuck All” safety culture was exposed by Shell Group Auditor, Bill Campbell during a safety audit. Brinded put production and profits before people lives. The cover-up continues in that tragic affair. Brinded is another candidate for Van der Veers job.

There are other scandals including Shell’s admitted use of undercover agents who have engaged in sabotage, spying and infiltration of Shell’s perceived enemies on an international basis.  There is also Shell skullduggery in Nigeria, where it is involved in a commercial relationship with the criminal gangs attacking Shell employees and infastructure. Wikipedia has details of Shell’s involvement in fictitious trades, securities fraud, price fixing cartels, theft of intellectual property, bribes, corruption, the sale of tainted gasoline etc.

Thus there is plenty of mud to sling.

Shell’s treatment of the former Shell geologist Dr John Huong is another scandal. Eight Royal Dutch Shell companies have collectively buried him alive in multiple legal proceedings for almost four years despite knowing within days of issuing a libel action that we, not Dr Huong, were responsible for the alleged defamatory publication on our website. He remains under threat of imprisonment for alleged contempt of Court. Dr Huong has no prospect of finding employment while the draconian litigation brought in the wrong legal jurisdiction, against the wrong website and the wrong defendant remains in force. Shell self-evidently prefers pursuing litigation in the corruption ridden Malaysian judiciary.

As you can see Guest 1389, I believe in plain speaking. The truth is a complete defence to libel. If Shell takes issue with anything stated herein, it has a standing in-house army of 650 lawyers at the last count to defend the company and its officers. I suggest you leave them to decide when it is appropriate to take action. The same applies to lawyers representing The Dow Jones Organisation/Wall Street Journal (and its authors) or anyone else who takes issue with the content of this article.

I believe that we provide a needed counter-balance to the greenwash and whitewash BS spouted by Shell PR stooges. You might call it throwing mud. I call it speaking the plain truth.

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

One Comment

  1. David says:

    Mr, Donovan:
    As much as I support, at times, your ‘crusades’ against Shell, I do agree with Guest 1389 on this occasion. The WSJ article about Prince Jafri was as ‘Shell related’ as me filling up my car in a Shell station and thus becoming an accomplice to their, presumed, misdeeds.

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