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Besieged by undercover activity during run-up to Shell SMART High Court Trial

Extract from the ebook “John Donovan, Shell’s Nightmare” (now available on Amazon websites globally)

(BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT SHELL’S EPIC 25 YEAR FEUD WITH JOHN DONOVAN – which puts the extracts below in overall context.)

We were besieged by undercover activity during the run-up to the SMART High Court Trial – the climax of our litigation alleging that Shell had stolen the SMART multi-partner loyalty card concept from our company Don Marketing. Shell had in reply brought a Counterclaim amid a barrage of aggressive threats and sinister activity against us. With regards to the reference to Charles Hoots, I have a file of information about him and his spying expertise, including the extensive article co-authored by him: “SHOULD THE CIA START SPYING FOR CORPORATE AMERICA?”. There is a reference to Mr Hoots in the US National Security Archive and his involvement in an intelligence related project concerning Afghanistan. 

Extract below from pages 98 &99


Sinister Events – Mr. Charles Hoots

A gentleman called Mr. Charles Hoots contacted my solicitor, Mr. Richard Woodman of the City of London law firm Royds on Friday 15th May 1998. He purported to be a journalist representing “The European” newspaper. Mr. Hoots phoned me shortly thereafter from Paris using the same cover story. He had visited our website and wanted to write an article for The European about the litigation with Shell. He asked to meet me on Monday 18th May. I offered to travel to London but he insisted on coming to Bury St Edmunds so that he could interview me at my office or my home. I had lunch with him at an expensive restaurant. The wine flowed freely. Hoot’s paid the bill. He seemed to have a generous expenses allowance.

I became suspicious and telephoned Lynn Moorlen, the editor of The European. She was shocked at hearing the claim made by Mr. Hoots that he was representing her newspaper.

This is an extract from her response letter: “Further to our conversation today, I would like to confirm that we have not commissioned Charles Hoots to write for The European on any subject for almost two years. However, having taken legal advice from our lawyers we will be taking this matter up with him. I hope this explains our position and clarifies any uncertainty that may have arisen.”

She did not explain what had happened to end the relationship two years earlier, but it was plain that she wanted nothing more to do with Mr. Hoots.

A UK national newspaper, The Guardian, subsequently investigated Mr. Hoots. A  journalist at the paper, Mr. Paul Brown told me that Charles Hoots had not written any articles for some time and that in their opinion he was probably a “spook” (his term) working under the cover of being a journalist. There is evidence to suggest this analysis was correct.

Sinister Events – Mr. “Christopher Phillips”

An agent using the name “Christopher Phillips” made an undercover visit to our business centre offices in Bury St Edmunds. He was spotted by an office administrator, Marie Neal, inspecting the pigeon holes used for storing arriving mail. This act, combined with the scope and unusual nature of his questions about us raised her suspicions about the true purpose of his visit. In response to a challenge about his snooping, he presented what turned out to be fake credentials for a sham firm called “Cofton Consultants”.

Sinister Events – “Daniel Wilson” incident on 9 June 1998

On Tuesday 9th, June 1998, my solicitor, Mr. Richard Woodman, received a telephone call from a Mr. “Daniel Wilson,” who claimed to be representing The Daily Express newspaper. Mr. Wilson said that he had visited our website. He had originally intended to write a story about the way that the Internet was used in the “McLibeI” case. He now intended to focus on our story. The article would be published the following day, Wednesday 10th June. He repeatedly pressed Mr. Woodman to answer some questions about the litigation. Mr. Woodman refused to do so. Mr. Wilson left a telephone number for me to call. When I did so, it became apparent that the number did not exist. I telephoned The Daily Express and spoke to several people. None had ever heard of Daniel Wilson. No article was published about websites in the paper on the date quoted. “Mr. Wilson” never called again.

Extract from the John Donovan ebook end.


THE SHELL SMART TRIAL In 1999: While the dramatic cross-examination of Shell executive AJL was in progress and reaching a climax, Shell suddenly settled the high court litigation brought by John Donovan in relation to SHELL SMART and related libel actions. Shell paid all legal costs said to be over £1 million pounds and John Donovan received a secret payment as part of the settlement, the full terms of which were deliberately withheld by Shell from the Judge, the late Mr Justice Laddie. The judge made comments at the end of the trial unaware of the full terms of settlement, a fact later confirmed to John Donovan in writing by Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman, now retired. The comments made by the judge later triggered a repudiation of the settlement by Shell.


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GERMAN TV: John Donovan’s revelations cost Shell billions


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Since the 1990s, Shell has been at war with John Donovan

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Shell corporate espionage

Shell Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark

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

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