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Shell Cloak and Dagger activities

Now we have the latest bombshell – the burglaries carried out against people associated with our SMART claim, including key witnesses. Brief cases have been forced open, papers examined, including privileged documents between DM and its lawyers. The latter included a brief issued to Dr Mary Vitoria QC – a document Shell’s lawyers recently failed to obtain after making an application to the Courts (which was dismissed with costs).

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.)

The extract below should be read in the context of the fact that 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 Intellectual Property from our company Don Marketing. Shell brought a Counterclaim amid a barrage of aggressive threats and sinister activity directed against us. Shell did not disclose its close connection with a private spy firm Hakluyt & Company.

Extracts below from pages 102, 103 & 104



The initial underhand activity soon turned into something even more sinister.

My main witness, Mr. Roger Sotherton, returned home one evening to discover that his house had been burgled and that someone had examined his files on the case.

When I reported this astonishing development to my solicitor Richard Woodman, he shocked me by revealing that his home in South London had also been burgled in similar circumstances.

A short time later, on 13 October 1998, my house was also broken into. Nothing was taken. Documents were tampered with.

The burglaries were referred to in the aforementioned letter my father sent to Mark Moody-Stuart in November 1998.


Now we have the latest bombshell – the burglaries carried out against people associated with our SMART claim, including key witnesses. Brief cases have been forced open, papers examined, including privileged documents between DM and its lawyers. The latter included a brief issued to Dr Mary Vitoria QC – a document Shell’s lawyers recently failed to obtain after making an application to the Courts (which was dismissed with costs).

Personal and company bank statements for Don Marketing and its current and former Directors have also been examined. Such information goes beyond the bounds of “routine credit enquiries. One burglary was carried out at a house that Mr Hoots was keen to visit. The Police have been notified of the burglaries and of the circumstances linking all of them.


My father received a response letter dated 26 October 1998 from DJ Freeman on behalf of Moody-Stuart. It was dated 26 October 1998, but this must have been an error as the first line stated: “We have received your letter dated November 1998 addressed to Mr. Moody-Stuart.” Presumably, the date should have been 26 November 1998. It confirmed that Shell had carried out an internal investigation into the threatening call and also indicated that Shell only became aware of the burglary at the home of Roger Sotherton after being contacted by a Guardian newspaper journalist.

Some of these events were set out at the time in a letter dated 23 November 1998 my father sent to Colin Joseph.

It included reference to threats made “against my son, his family and against his witnesses.”

Although I lived in Suffolk and Roger Sotherton lived in Norfolk, the police sent the same forensic’s team to both locations.

I received a letter dated 16 October 1998 from a Sector Commander of Suffolk Police, S J Gates, supplying information, including a Crime Reference code.

All of the burglaries across Southern England took place within a matter of weeks leading up to the 1999 trial in which counter-claims were brought against us, later abandoned by Shell.

The police investigated the series of events including the anonymous telephone call. They interviewed staff at Shell-Mex House, including AJL. The police discussed setting a trap at the home of Mr. Paul King a retired Shell National Promotions Manager.

They thought Mr. King might also be targeted. 

The Police eventually advised me off the record that despite concluding there had been a criminal conspiracy against us, there was insufficient evidence to prove it.

Shell and DJ Freeman did, however, after being cornered, admit in writing the activities of Christopher Phillips.

As is evident from the letter I received from Richard Wiseman dated 1 July 1998, Mark Moody-Stuart and Dr. Chris Fay were both in the loop regarding the discussions about the undercover activity.

It would not be surprising if the incidents frightened my key witnesses.

The burglary activity did have an impact on the trial.

Roger Sotherton, whose evidence was crucial to my case, was not his normal self when giving evidence. His memory was called into question because he could not recall something that had happened a few days earlier during the trial.

When pressed at one point in his cross-examination, he testified under oath that Shell papers in his possession were tampered with during the burglary at his house. He also referred to the burglaries at the homes of other people involved in the litigation. He was clearly shaken rigid by the series of sinister events. See highlighted in yellow extracts from the official transcript of Roger Sotherton being cross-examined by Geoffrey Hobbs QC acting for Shell.

A very nervous Mr. King, who had expressed reservations about the ethics of  AJL and Shell, declined to give evidence on behalf of Shell or me. He expressed concern about retaining his Shell pension. A handwritten letter he sent me a few years earlier after his retirement from Shell, when he indicated that Shell was no longer the company he had joined, was, however, entered into evidence.

By the time of the trial, the evidence of all of my potential key witnesses was undermined, neutralized or not given at all, due to the intimidating nature of the sinister events.

The self-explanatory letters below provide an accurate contemporary account in chronological order of the events I have described, if anyone wants to read the detail. Otherwise, skip to page106.

John Donovan letter to The Editor of The European newspaper: 9 June 1998

Letter from Lynn Moorlen, Editorial Manager of The European: 11 June 1998

John Donovan letter to Dr. Chris Fay, Chairman & CEO, Shell UK Limited: 15 June 1998

Reply letter from DJ Freeman on behalf of Dr. Fay: 16 June 1998

Further letter from John Donovan of Don Marketing to The European newspaper: 16 June 1998

Royds letter to DJ Freeman (please read the copy letters to Cofton Consultants which were enclosed): 18 June 1998

Royds letter to John Donovan of Don Marketing: 18 June 1998

John Donovan letter to Colin Joseph of DJ Freeman: 18 June 1998

Correspondence between DJ Freeman (acting for Shell) and Royds Solicitors (acting for John Donovan: 19/23 June 1998

Letter from John Donovan of Don Marketing to Shell Chairman Mark Moody-Stuart: 23 June 1998

Letter from John Donovan of Don Marketing to Shell UK Legal Director Richard Wiseman: 23 June 1998

(Includes my question asking if Phillips had engaged in surveillance or phone tapping activities against me.)

DJ Freeman letter to Royds Treadwell: 24 June 1998

Letter from Shell UK Legal Director Richard Wiseman to John Donovan: 24 June 1998

(Mr. Wiseman confirms Phillips was instructed by Shell/DJ Freeman but ignored my question about whether the instructions included authorization of surveillance or phone tapping activities against me.)

Royds letter to DJ Freeman: 25 June1998

(Extract: “Mr Phillips enquiries at the business centre involved a straightforward deception of the receptionist.”)

Letter from Richard Wiseman to John Donovan:1 July 1998

Extract: “So far as, I have been able to discover, nobody in any Shell company has any knowledge of Mr Hoots.”

Letter from DJ Freeman to John Donovan: 3 July 1998

Extract: “If, nevertheless, the police wish to obtain any further information from my clients or from anyone involved in enquiries on their behalf, including Mr Phillips, then, as has been said on several previous occasions, the fullest of co-operation will be given.”

Letter from Shell UK Legal Director Richard Wiseman to John Donovan, Don Marketing: 9 July 1998


“Both Mr Joseph and I have denied any Shell involvement in any of the intimidation you allege. The activities of Mr Phillips have, of course, been admitted.“: “Neither you, your family, nor any potential witness, has any cause for physical fear as a result of your prosecuting this case with all the vigour we have come to expect.“

DJ Freeman letter to John Donovan, Don Marketing 9 July 1998

DJ Freeman letter to John Donovan, Don Marketing 7 August 1998

DJ Freeman letter to John Donovan, Don Marketing: 11 August 1998

(Confirms internal investigation by Shell)

Letter to John Donovan from Suffolk Police about the burglary: dated 16 October 1998

Letter to Alfred Donovan from DJ Freeman: 26 October 1998

(Further confirmation of an internal investigation by Shell)

Links for the entire correspondence.

I strongly suspect, but cannot prove, that additional activity was arranged at a much higher level.

Extracts 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. By co-incidence or otherwise the judge resigned in controversial circumstances soon after we lodged a formal complaint about his outlandish conduct during the trial and his undeclared connection with a member of the Moody-Stuart family, the barrister Tom Moody-Stuart. His mother, Lady Judy Moody-Stuart, had also become personally involved. Her well-meaning intervention was brought to the attention of the judge by my late father Alfred Donovan.


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

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