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Hakluyt notorious spying for oil giants Shell and BP

By Alfred Donovan

Printed below in an article published today by the London Evening Standard, plus a related letter I sent to Members of Parliament in 2004 on the same subject.

London Evening Standard

Recession puts Hakluyt spies out in the cold

Rosamund Urwin

British intelligence group Hakluyt & Company warned today of a drop in revenues this year after businesses cut back on spying on their rivals in the recession.

But the Mayfair-based firm, which has been described as “a retirement home for ex-MI6 officers” and whose boardroom roll reads like a Who’s Who of the City, said demand for corporate spooks had started to pick up again.

Hakluyt is notorious for spying on environmental campaigners for oil giants including Shell and BP a decade ago. It has close ties to the energy industry — one of its founders was former BP chairman Sir Peter Cazalet.

Since then, MPs have called for an investigation into its activities and relationship with the secret intelligence services. Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker tabled parliamentary questions about the group’s dealings as recently as last month.

With swathes of FTSE 100 companies among its clients, Hakluyt has also come under the spotlight for the list of City luminaries which have advised the group, including ex-Vodafone boss Sir Christopher Gent.

Its bulging contacts book has not been enough to shield Hakluyt entirely from the recession, however, with sales expected to slip and margins squeezed during the year to the end of June.

Hakluyt’s deputy managing director Rupert Huxter, formerly Private Secretary to Michael Heseltine and Peter Mandelson, explained: “We were hit by the general economic situation. “A lot of our business is to do with mergers and acquisitions and that side suffered.”

But he said trading had improved in recent months: “We are now back on an upward trend.”

In accounts just filed at Companies House, Hakluyt said it had responded to a slowdown in trading at the start of last year by cutting costs.

Thanks to a strong final six months of 2008, sales climbed by 13 per cent to £21.9 million in the 12 months to the end of June last year. Profits were up four per cent to £4.8 million and Hakluyt raised its payout to shareholders from 230p a share to 250p.

The company’s best-rewarded director — probably chief executive and ex-MI6 man Keith Craig — was paid £850,000.

Hakluyt has a reputation for discreet investigations. It was founded 15 years ago by two former MI6 officers, who named the group after the 16th Century writer and adventurer Richard Hakluyt.


Niall Fitzgerald, chairman: Deputy chairman of Thomson Reuters. Ran Unilever for eight years.

Keith Craig, chief executive: Ex-M16. Joined Hakluyt a decade ago.

Sir William Purves, ex-chairman: Ex-HSBC chairman. Former director of Shell Transport & Trading.

Sir Rod Eddington, ex-adviser: Ex-British Airways chief executive. Left Hakluyt after row over his advisory role to Australian leader Kevin Rudd.

Sir Kieran Prendergast, director: Former under-secretary general for political affairs at the United Nations.

Robert Webb QC, director: ex-general Counsel at British Airways. Current non-executive chairman of BBC Worldwide and non-executive director of the London Stock Exchange.

Mark Getty, director: Of the US oil dynasty. Ex-Hambros and founder of picture agency Getty Images.





I am an 87 year old partly disabled war pensioner.

I am not one of your constituents but I want to bring to your attention a matter of public concern to everyone interested in the fundamental right of a UK citizen to a fair trial, free of witness intimidation by corporate sponsored undercover agents.

I have supplied the Lord Chancellor with evidence that all of our key witnesses in a legal action against Shell UK Limited were undermined and/or neutralised by undercover investigators some of whom Shell has admitted hiring. In a systematic fashion every one of our witnesses was intimidated. That is fundamentally wrong. The same tactics were used against us. My letter to Lord Falconer is published on my website

My email address is [email protected].

It seems that multinational corporations use undercover agents supplied by firms such as Hakluyt because it makes them once removed from direct responsibility for any unpleasant/illegal actions which might subsequently be exposed. In other words, scope for plausible denial with blame being attached to the intelligence firm, rather than the sponsoring client. This may explain the use of so-called “private contractors” in the interrogation of American held prisoners in Iraq. One such private intelligence firm involved, Titan Corporation, is the American equivalent to Hakluyt.

I first wrote to every MP in 1998 warning of a sinister aspect to Shell UK and a corporate culture of cover-up and deceit deeply ingrained at the highest levels of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Therefore news reports of cover-up, deception and intrigue at Shell regarding the shortfall in oil and gas reserves hold no surprises to me. What I have to tell you involves the same Shell senior management figures named in the recent class action law suits alleging fraud and deceit. (Shell has just downgraded its oil reserves for the fourth time in as many months).

Shell internal emails reveal a conspiracy to mislead investors including numerous pension funds. The deception involved the top management at Shell some of whom still remain in their highly paid jobs. There is even talk of sending a £1m payoff cheque to Sir Philip Watts, the recently sacked Group Chairman. Presumably to secure his cooperation in the pending multibillion dollar law suits. It is all reminiscent of the Mad Hatters Tea Party.

I am a long term Shell shareholder. In 1998 I also wrote to every Shell Transport director bringing to their attention sinister undercover activity against my family in relation to a lawsuit my son had brought against Shell. I recently discovered to my horror that I was in fact communicating directly with the then spymasters of “Hakluyt”, a shadowy organisation closely linked with MI6, specialising in undercover operations for corporate clients, including Shell. I understand that many MP’s believe that Hakluyt is the commercial arm of MI6.

Directors/shareholders in Shell Transport were simultaneously directors/shareholders in Hakluyt. In fact Shell directors including a former Royal Dutch/Shell Group Chairman were at the helm of Hakluyt as its President and Chairman. Shell has admitted using Hakluyt in widespread undercover activities against its perceived enemies (Sunday Times article 17/6/01).

How could Shell promise in its “Statement of General Business Principles” transparency, integrity and honesty in all its dealings and yet be part and parcel of a sinister spying organisation whose stock in trade is deception and trickery? There is a huge credibility gap between these two extremes.

Even Shell’s Code of Ethics is not what it seems. Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman has confirmed in writing that Shell’s promises of integrity have no legal standing. Like a bet with a bookmaker they are binding in honour only. They are intended to create an image of a highly principled multinational but in reality are worthless; a sham.

My family, our witnesses and our solicitor were besieged and intimidated by undercover agents in the run up to the High Court trial. Burglaries occurred at the residences of a key witness, my son’s solicitor, and at our own house. Our privileged documents were examined. Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman admitted in writing the activities of one undercover agent who was caught red-handed illegally checking our mail during an intelligence gathering mission. Kendall Freeman, the solicitors acting for Shell made the same written admission but warned us in a letter that other agents were also being used against us. This was also meant to intimidate us.

In addition to the covert operations against us and various NOO’s including Greenpeace and Body Shop, Shell simultaneously set up and paid for a private army of 1400 Police spies supporting the then murderous regime in Nigeria ( Mail on Sunday article 4 April 04)

The preparation and prosecution of my sons High Court Trial against Shell was completely undermined by the “no holds barred” tactics used against us. One key witness, a former Shell manager of long standing was too frightened to give evidence. The Police carried out enquiries but Shell obviously did not disclose its shameful expertise via Hakluyt in using the very tactics being investigated; tactics which in a UK setting, amounted to a criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

This is why I have written to the Lord Chancellor seeking a police investigation. I have also sought assurances about the impartiality of the trial judge who has declined to answer a straightforward question about a possible professional/personal connection with the son of Shell’s Group Chairman at the time of the trial, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. The judge is a
man of the very highest integrity but I see no reason why he and others involved refuse to answer a legitimate question. I would be grateful if you could support my request to Lord Falconer for an investigation.

Please visit to read my sworn Affidavit concerning these matters. You will also find the world’s most comprehensive news portal website covering the Royal Dutch/Shell Group (on which my correspondence with Shell is being published).

Yours sincerely
Alfred Donovan



(SHELL IS STILL SPYING ON US – WHAT THEY NOW TERM AS “INVISIBLE INVESTIGATIONS”.) and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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