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Royal Dutch Shell and the dark arts


Threats, including death threats, have allegedly been made against conscience driven Shell whistleblowers leaking information and/or Shell internal documents to John Donovan

By John Donovan

Andy Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World in January 2007 over a phone hacking scandal at the newspaper. He is now media adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Journalists hacked into mobile-phones to hear voice mail messages left for UK royalty, government ministers and celebrities.

An investigation by Scotland Yard focused almost exclusively on the hacking targeting Prince William and Prince Harry. It resulted in the imprisonment of a News of the World reporter and a private investigator.

Further allegations have now been made and there are calls for a judicial inquiry…

News of the World faces fresh phone hacking charge

In Britain, Labour Politicians Call for New Look at Scandal

Major corporations naturally prefer to keep secret the use of the dark arts to steal confidential information.

Royal Dutch Shell is probably the business worlds leading practitioner in the use of commercial espionage, sometimes on an industrial scale.

I speak from experience as Shell has stolen confidential intellectual property from me on several occasions. It tried to keep the associated court settlements secret after I was forced to repeatedly issue High Court proceedings against the company. (See pdf of magazine feature – High Court papers unveil ‘secret’ Shell writ lossesspread over several pages, so it takes a little time to load).

After issuing SEVEN separate related court cases against Shell in all, the oil giant decided to use undercover agents to investigate my father and me. One agent was caught at our offices examining private mail. When challenged, he presented fake credentials. In conjunction with our lawyers, we  cornered the then Legal Director of Shell, Mr Richard Wiseman, into admitting in writing that the agent in question (“Christopher Phillips”) was working for Shell. A retained lawyer acting for Shell – Colin Joseph of DJ Freeman now known as Kendall Freeman – informed us in writing at the time of the incident that other agents were also investigating us, but declined to reveal what they were doing.

We were in fact besieged by undercover operatives and bombarded by threats. Our house was burgled and Shell discovery papers, including one that Shell had been unable to obtain through court proceedings, was tampered with and no doubt copied. Our key witness’s residence was also burgled. Again, Shell discovery documents were tampered with. Even my solicitor’s house was burgled. All of the burglaries across Southern England took place within a matter of weeks leading up to a High Court trial in which Shell had brought counter-claims against us, which it later abandoned. Mr. Wiseman denied that Shell had any connection with the above sinister activity, other than in relation to “Christopher Phillips”.

Some of these events were set out at the time in a letter we sent to Colin Joseph. It included reference to threats made “against my son, his family and against his witnesses.” It also mentions a related meeting at Shell-Mex House between Simon Rines, a journalist representing The Guardian newspaper, and Colin Joseph, Richard Wiseman and a person from Shell media department, all representing Shell.  Both sides tape recorded the entire interview.

During the discovery process we found Shell internal documents providing irrefutable evidence of a scheme by Shell executives to deliberately obtain confidential information from several companies under false pretenses.

The companies were lured into a rigged contract tender process. They were then enticed into confidentiality agreements, again under false pretenses. The whole exercise was designed to steal information from them, when in reality they had no prospect of winning the contract, which was awarded to a company which did not even participate in the tender. (This was analogous to a horse winning a race in which it did not run.) It was a company with whom the Shell executive masterminding the rigged process had a very close connection and an offshore bank account. Senior Shell executives, including Malcolm Brinded, gave their full backing to the unscrupulous executive responsible for the corrupted tender process.

It is relevant to note that two years after we were besieged by sinister activity, The Sunday Times run a front page lead story on Shell espionage operations conducted on an international basis against its perceived enemies. Shell used a private intelligence firm Hakluyt & Co Ltd in which titled Shell directors were major shareholders, directors and the ultimate spymasters. (pdf of original Sunday Times article)

We do not know whether at the time of Mr. Wiseman’s denial of Shell’s connection with the additional skulduggery, he was aware of Shell’s close connection with Hakluyt, which was engaged on Shell’s behalf in the same type of operations against other parties such as Greenpeace, The Body Shop and Nigerian activists, that had been directed against us.

Shell’s hostile activities targeting us and our website have continued in subsequent years.

In 2005, Shell secretly set up a counter-measures team as confirmed in a confidential Shell internal email.

A Shell internal confidential email dated 21 March 2007 revealed that Shell had undertaken a global spying operation against its own employees in an effort to find out who has been supplying us with Shell “internal laundry” (as it is sensitively described).

In June 2007, Shell secretly threatened legal proceedings against our website server hosting companies in Canada and the USA. The threats resulted in our website being deactivated on 25 June 2007.  Although initially unwilling to disclose who had made the threats that frightened our hosting companies into immediate submission, when we pressed the matter, each hosting company reluctantly confirmed that it was, as we rightly suspected, Shell. Keith Ruddock, a Royal Dutch Shell General Counsel, later confirmed to me in an email dated 26 June 2007, that Shell was responsible for the machinations which briefly shut down our website.

In 2008, the website came under sustained attack, the precise details of which I will not reveal for security reasons. By March of that year, the attacks had become so disruptive that I sent an email to Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, officially notifying Shell of what was going on and providing detailed information. I thought it possible that a counter-measures team would be concerned at senior management being brought into the matter. Mr Brandjes knew nothing about the attacks, but as if by magic, by coincidence of otherwise, the attacks ceased.

A confidential Shell internal email dated June 2009 involving (CAS) Shell Corporate Affairs Security and NCFTA, a U.S. cybercrime agency, partly funded and staffed by the FBI, discussed “investigations” relating to us and our website and said: “There will be no attempt to do anything visible to Donovan”. The implication being that the “investigations” would be “invisible”.

Shell’s spying against us and its own employees was reported in a Reuters article published in December 2009.

Allegation of death threats surrounding leaked Shell emails

We have received a large number of Shell internal emails over several years. Some have been leaked to us by our network of Shell insiders while countless others, spanning several years, have been obtained from Shell after we made applications to the company as provided under the UK Data Protection Act.

I would now reveal for the first time that threats, including death threats, have allegedly been made against conscience driven whistleblowers leaking information and/or Shell internal documents to the author of this article. Royal Dutch Shell also took draconian legal action against the Malaysian whistleblower Dr John Huong, a Shell production geologist. He was buried for several years in Shell defamation lawsuits for information allegedly leaked to this website. Shell also sought his imprisonment for alleged contempt of court.

I have evidence from our sources confirming alleged threats. One such threat for example relates to the Sakhalin2 project. Evidence I provided to the Russian government supplied to me by an insider, cost Shell billions of dollars and also resulted in the resignation of a Shell Managing Director David Greer, who was Project Director of Sakhalin2 and Deputy Chairman of Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Limited. The last message received from the source informed me that they had received a credible serious threat. The source disappeared without trace.

The track record of intimidation should heighten concern about the dark side of Shell.

Two former spooks are currently employed by Shell. A retired senior FBI official, Richard T. Garcia, is Global Security Manager for Shell Americas. A former senior MI6 officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Ian Forbes McCredie OBE is head of Shell Corporate Affairs Security (CAS).

The above provides overwhelming evidence of Shell’s track record of IP theft, fraud, and industrial espionage. (Speaking of fraud, only a few years ago, Royal Dutch Shell was responsible for one of the biggest securities frauds in corporate history)

Many other parties have been the victims of such activity by Shell.

The following is an extract from a statement published on the Internet by John Alfred Dyer:

In 1993, following five years of research, my findings resulted in the commissioning of a television program for ‘Carlton Television’.  Shell quickly responded.  Investigators kept me under surveillance. My telephone was tapped. My mail was intercepted, and destroyed and/or kept. At the same time, Shell filed a seemingly endless line of complaints about my own alleged conduct, to the  Independent Television Commission (UK regulatory authority), Carlton, and others.

In more recent years, Shell has been accused of being responsible for surveillance operations and violence directed at members of the local population in Ireland protesting against the Shell led Corrib Gas Project.

Shell Corrib Gas Controversy: Call for Investigation into boat sinking

Security firm for Shell at Corrib site rejects ‘conclusion on alleged assault’

Focus on sinister events surrounding Shell Corrib Gas project

Corrib link to Irish man’s death

Consequently, be on your guard if, despite the above information, you risk approaching Royal Dutch Shell with confidential commercially value information. The oil giant is predatory in nature and despite its claimed business principles, has no scruples. It also has an army of several hundred lawyers backed up by unlimited financial resources, ready to destroy without mercy any smaller companies or individual who might object to being trampled on.


ADVANCE NOTICE: Another incredible but true story about alleged Royal Dutch Shell industrial espionage is in the pipeline.


When I worked for Shell USA, over 20 years ago, I discovered that Shell was monitoring the phone conversations of its employees in Houston at some of their E&P office locations.

A police officer friend of mine told me about a phone number you could dial and that number would trigger a test of your phone line. If it was clear of other connections, then your phone would ring back when you dialed the number. However, if there was an open connection on the line, i.e., it was tapped or monitored/recorded in some fashion, then you would get a busy signal because the tap was an open circuit.

I passed this number out to a number of my friends at Shell and they started testing their company phone lines. Guess what. Their phone conversations were being monitored. That discovery flew through the staff like wildfire. Caused a big fuss. Lots of denials on the part of Shell. But from then on every one was very careful about what they said and how they used the phone.
Shell has been spying on its employees for decades. And it got even more sinister.

I had been working for Shell for about four years and one day I got a strange phone call. It was from Shell’s political action committee, SEPAC (Shell Employees Political Action Committee). They were soliciting donations to oppose some sort of legislation Congress was proposing that was ‘not in our best interests’. I declined. I was then informed by this person that they noticed that I had always declined to contribute since becoming an employee. They thought this to be strange given that SEPAC operated in the best interests of ‘the employees’.

I proceeded to inform this person that I was not happy they were keeping these kinds of records given that it was prohibited by Federal law, and that pressuring employees to contribute was also a violation of Federal law. This person hung up immediately without further word. I never got another phone call from those people.

Be warned. Shell management not only monitors their computer systems, and phone lines, but they keep track of your ‘loyalty’ to the ’cause’ through your contributions to their political action committees.

Everything you do and say at Shell is a loyalty test. Everything. Big Brother is always watching and listening. Always.

Everything you do and say at Shell is a loyalty test. Everything. Big Brother is always watching and listening. Always. Wikipedia article Dec 2007 Version

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

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