Introduction

In 1979, the company I co-founded, *Don Marketing, created and supplied promotional games that were used to promote petrol sales on the forecourts of all major petrol brands in the UK, including Shell.

In 1981, we moved into a  direct contractual relationship with Shell as a result of a presentation I made at Shell-Mex House in The Strand, the then London HQ of Shell UK Limited.

I put forward a proposal for Shell to launch a legal version of a promotional game called Make Money that Shell had abandoned in the 1960‘s out of concern that it was in breach of UK lottery laws.

We agreed in an exchange of correspondence to share rights to Make Money and we launched the promotion to award-winning spectacular success in 1983. It caught the imagination of the public and the news media.

We were treated like heroes by Shell and supplied Make Money and other promotional games to Shell on an international basis.

The mutually successful relationship ended in acrimony lasting over two decades, with bouts of litigation.

The unfortunate hostilities have also involved cloak and dagger activity admitted by Shell.

There is a gallery at the end of some chapters which feature screenshots related to the content of the chapter. Some also contain news reports published about these events.

They provide an indication of the degree of media coverage of what was described in one article as a war (Times Diary), and in another as a public feud.

Most of the information herein is taken from the published eBook: John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare.

It is a true account of extraordinary events involving one of the world’s largest and most unscrupulous companies: Royal Dutch Shell.

I contend that the overused David v Goliath analogy can be fairly applied to this epic tale.

*Don Marketing was founded by Donovan family members, Alfred, Bob and John and their chartered accountant friend of long-standing, Don Redhead. Alfred and Don are both sadly deceased and much missed by all who knew them.

Some news headlines about the litigation Shell would prefer to forget

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CHAPTER 1: John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare

The name of this book is not an ego-driven title dreamt up by me, but the headline of an article by an award-winning newspaper journalist, Christoph Giesen published across the EU in ten languages. It was about my unusual relationship with Royal Dutch Shell. Over a decade of spectacular mutual success followed by two decades of hostilities, including sinister episodes of cloak and dagger activity by Shell against my father and me. The article led to a TV documentary feature aired across the EU.

A broadsheet German daily newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung published a major article about me on 20 March 2012 under the headline “Konzernfeind No. 1.”

The article by Christoph Giesen told the story of my epic feud with the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, a former client of the multinational company I co-founded, Don Marketing.

The English translation of the above newspaper headline: Shell’s enemy No.1

It was republished on 27 March 2012 by the European Journal/VOXeurope in ten languages under the headline: “John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare.

A related TV documentary feature filmed in the UK and Russia was subsequently broadcast across Europe by Deutsche Welle (DW) the leading German TV international public broadcasting channel. It included an interview with former Russian Deputy Minister of the Environment, Oleg Mitvol, named in a Guardian newspaper article as a “Kremlin attack dog.” Film footage of President Putin appears in the feature. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 5: Shell corporate espionage in the run-up to the Smart trial

Titled Shell directors, the late Sir Peter Holmes, and Sir William Purves were also directors, major shareholders and the spymasters of Hakluyt & Company, a UK corporate espionage firm founded by former senior MI6 officers. Shell used Hakluyt to engage in cloak and dagger operations against its perceived enemies, including Greenpeace, as exposed in a Sunday Times front page lead article “MI6 ‘firm’ spied on green groups.” It led to a follow-on inside page headlined “How agent Camus sunk Greenpeace oil protests”. 

When Shell first instigated a cloak and dagger operation against us, we had no knowledge of the oil giants long-time involvement in the dark arts.

I first mentioned the subject of investigative activity in a letter dated 15 June 1998 that I sent to Dr Chris Fay, the then Chairman & Chief Executive of Shell UK Limited. It was also copied to Shell lawyers.

From paragraph 4 of page 3:

“Shell did retain an investigative specialist in connection with the previous litigation. They made investigations about me going back over a decade.” read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 7: A biased High Court Judge who later resigned in controversial circumstances

It became increasingly evident to me when the SMART trial began that the much-respected Judge, the late Mr Justice Laddie (above) was not impartial. That conclusion was reinforced in the “Judges Comments.” These were ill-informed remarks the Judge insisted on making about me after being deliberately misled by Shell about the true terms of a settlement of the case negotiated by the parties involved. I later discovered to my horror that he had undisclosed connections with Shell. I had mortgaged my house to my lawyers to cover legal costs believing it would be a fair trial before an impartial judge. 

As the trial progressed it became increasingly evident to me that the Judge, Mr Justice Laddie, was not impartial. I later discovered to my consternation that he had disturbing undeclared connections with Shell, which gave rise to a concern over the possibility of unconscious bias. 

Although aware of both matters, the Judge expressed not the slightest interest in the burglaries or the uncover activity admitted by Shell. He actually quoted from a letter from me published by Marketing Week magazine on 25 February 1999, in which the undercover activity was mentioned. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 8: Peace treaty shattered by Shell

The peace did not last for long. Shell offered information about me to a third party company that could only be construed as being damaging to my reputation. I served notice on Shell that this breach by Shell amounted to a repudiation of the agreement. Shell threatened to take related legal action, but tellingly, did not do so. Hostilities resumed with subsequent news coverage, including the above Sunday Times article.

In 2001, a third party company approached Shell to confirm that Shell would not object to the launch on the Internet of a paperless Make Money type game. My involvement as a consultant to the company was disclosed to Shell.

Shell took the opportunity to offer information to the company that could only be construed as being damaging to my reputation. I had hoped that the project would restart my career, but Shell’s intervention torpedoed that prospect.

The information Shell brought up and offered to supply to the company was the “Judges Comments.” read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 10: Domain name battle with Shell

In a spectacular blunder, Shell neglected to register the top-level domain name for the newly merged company Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Shell lawyers discovered, no doubt to their shock and horror, that their most enduring critic had beaten them to the registration of royaldutchshellplc.com. Shell issued proceedings via the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) as reported by the Wall Street Journal (above) but in a spectacular public humiliation, Shell lost the case.

In 2004, a huge scandal engulfed the Royal Dutch Shell Group after it fraudulently over-stated its claimed oil and gas reserves – the most important factor in determining the value of an oil company.

As a direct consequence, the Anglo-Dutch arms of the Royal Dutch Shell Group – Shell Transport and Trading Company Plc and Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, were forced to merge into a single new company: Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

However, in a spectacular blunder, Shell neglected to register what was the top-level domain name for the new company. Shell lawyers discovered, no doubt to their consternation and horror, that their most enduring critic had beaten them to the registration of royaldutchshellplc.com. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 15: Assisting third parties to challenge Shell

It is a fact that our website has been used to publish public appeals on behalf of a number of parties, including the WWF and Friends of the Earth, who wanted to reach Shell shareholders, Shell employees, or the public. Information about the various public appeals can be found on a Wikipedia archive article from which the above extract is taken.

Royaldutchshellplc.com has been used to publish public appeals on behalf of a number of parties who wanted to reach Shell shareholders and/or Shell employees, or the public e.g. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 16: Our activities caught the attention of the news media

The Sunday Telegraph published an article by Juliette Garside under the headline “Online revolutionaries“ containing a reference to the Donovans and their website.

The long-lasting hostility between Shell and the Donovan family has not escaped the attention of the news media and other interested parties, such as The One World Trust, an independent research organisation associated with the UK Houses of Parliament and the United Nations.

Some memorable articles have been published regarding our activities and our website. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com