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Shell Ethics Chief involved in bending the truth

We should not give the impression that we are over-concerned with the D’s website, or that management spends a lot of time worrying about it. (Shell)

By John Donovan

I am still studying the Shell internal documents and communications the company was recently obliged to supply to me in accordance with an application under the Data Protection Act.

It is interesting to note the way events in our unusual relationship with Shell have been spun by Shell lawyers, depending on who is being given the information.

Richard Wiseman (right) is now the Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. We crossed swords with him many times during the seven separate court actions we brought against the oil giant, which settled ALL of these claims, involving breach of confidence, breach of contract and libel.

You would never guess this when reading the written briefings given regularly to a Shell senior management obsessed with our activities, to the extent of running a global spying operation against Shell employees, the Donovan’s and our website. This includes “invisible” investigations involving Shell Corporate Affairs Security (CAS), trying to discover who is supplying us with insider information, and who is visiting or posting information on our Shell Blog from Shell premises.

Since Wiseman was intimately involved in the bouts of litigation heading up Shell’s legal team, it is inconceivable that he has not had an input into the written briefings, at the very least checking to ensure accuracy. Indeed, he informed me when we last met at a Shell AGM (in 2006?) that he is still brought in to all matters involving the Donovan’s, including the domain name battle, which Shell also lost.

I will just pick out a few examples of blatant spin in a briefing dated 31 August 2007.

1. The first sentence of the first paragraph states:

We should not give the impression that we are over-concerned with the D’s website, or that management spends a lot of time worrying about it.

This is like a boxer trying to pretend that punches to his midriff are not making any impression, when everyone else is gasping at the obvious damage from sickening blows. A small selection of Shell internal documents, mainly from 2007 onwards, confirm that contrary to the self-delusion, Shell management is indeed obsessed by our activities.

2. Shell says in the briefing document:

…the company has always refrained from commenting on specific issues raised by the Ds and will continue to do so.

Anyone who has seen the recent published email correspondence I had with Wiseman in relation to the worlds biggest breach of employee data knows this claim is more BS. Extracts from what Wiseman said to me in his email replies were republished around the world. Shell lawyers have provided comment many times previously as would be obvious to our regular visitors.

3.  Shell also said in the internal briefing document:

In the early ’90s when Shell wanted to use Make Money again, Mr D claimed that he still owned the concept. Shell paid D for the transfer of the concept. Mr D then launched legal action against Shell in connection with two other promotions. While Shell was confident of defeating the claim, in the interest of saving costs for both sides, it was agreed that the matter would be settled. Following this settlement, Mr D sued Shell again. He claimed that he had invented the Smart promotion and that Shell had “stolen” it from him. The case went to court but Mr D eventually abandoned his claim

Yes, Shell did settle the Make Money claim, but only after we issued High Court proceedings seeking an injunction.

With regards to the litigation concerning “two other promotions”, Shell says it settled to save both sides costs. How unusually generous of Shell. We previously received an entirely different explanation from Mr Wiseman in his email dated May 1997. At the time, he was claiming  that Shell had settled out of a moral obligation which  arose out of the termination of the Company’s long standing relationship with us, not out of any particular claim. In fact, Shell settled after independent mediators reached the conclusion, after accessing the evidence and interviewing key witnesses, that “Don Marketing has been pissed on from a very great height”. A memorable verdict.

Wiseman claiming that Shell settled with us on moral grounds is on a par with the claim by Shell executive director, Malcolm Brinded, that Shell settled the Wiwa litigation last June on the court room steps for $15.5 million as a “goodwill gesture”, after Shell had dragged out the proceedings for many years. Oil and morals do not mix. All such decisions by Shell are taken on purely commercial grounds, which factor in potential reputational damage.

Shell also misrepresents the outcome of the SMART trial. Shell made two settlement proposals. I rejected the first and accepted the second only after it was agreed that my legal costs would be paid and that I would receive a secret payment not even disclosed to the trial Judge.

What hope is there for Shell management to make informed decisions when such inaccurate self-serving information, trying to cover-up past embarrassments, is conveyed to them?

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

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