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

Selection of related webpage header images from our RoyalDutchShellPlc.com sister website, also operated by John Donovan

Header images on royaldutchshellgroup.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 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 2: An unscrupulous Shell executive

The actions of an ambitious, unethical young Shell executive, intent on ruthlessly exploiting his position at Shell for personal gain, poisoned the previously excellent relationship we had enjoyed with the oil giant. Unfortunately, Shell senior management gave their full backing to the relevant unscrupulous executive: a decision they must regret as it has since cost the Group billions of dollars.

In 1992, in our capacity as directors of Don Marketing, a colleague and I presented in strictest confidence, a series of sales promotion ideas to a new Shell UK National Promotions Manager.

As many years have past, I have only used within this book the initials – AJL – of the relevant individuals’ name. I cannot do the same for items already published i.e. linked documents, media articles, correspondence and electronic communications.

After giving us a very positive response to our proposals, including encouraging email messages, AJL secretly funnelled our ideas to a promotions agency with whom he had a special relationship. 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 3: Donovan vs Shell litigation

Shell stole confidential intellectual property from us on several occasions. We sued and Shell settled. The settlements were inevitably surrounded by secrecy and deception designed to prevent embarrassing information from reaching third parties, particularly Shell shareholders.

LITIGATION BETWEEN 1994 AND 1996

Shell tried to keep the court settlements in the pre-Smart litigation secret  – see pdf of magazine feature – “High Court papers unveil ‘secret’ Shell writ losses.” 

The feature published in April 1998 was spread over several pages of Marketing Week magazine.

Shell settlements with me were inevitably surrounded by secrecy and deception designed to prevent embarrassing information reaching third parties, particularly Shell shareholders.

The first three High Court actions brought by Don Marketing were in respect of short-term promotions. Namely, a rerun of Shell Make Money; a Nintendo Gameboy themed instant win game, and a “Now Showing” movie-themed promotion. 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 4: Shell hypocrisy

In October 1996, I received an unsolicited letter of apology from Shell Chairman Dr. Chris Fay for the way we were treated by Shell. His letter arrived after Shell had already settled out of court with us for four High Court actions and one County Court case. As can be seen, the tone of the letter not meant for public consumption was totally at odds with press releases issued by Shell before and after his letter. The tone of the apology letter from Dr Fay (shown immediately below) was totally at odds with press releases and statements published or distributed to third parties by Shell before and after his letter. Examples are displayed. It is therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that the apology letter was disingenuous. 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 6: Shell Smart Trial at The Royal Courts of Justice

We suspended our website don-marketing.com before the Smart trial commenced in June 1999.

The trial actually commenced on 15th June 1999 in Court 58 on the 7th Floor of the modern air-conditioned Thomas More Building at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

At the start of the trial the Judge, Mr Justice Laddie QC commented that it was one of the most unpleasant cases that had ever come before him, with both sides making extremely serious allegations against each other.

Personal Intervention of Judy Moody-Stuart

Days before the Smart trial commenced, a magazine published an article containing a reference to an extraordinary personal intervention by Judy Moody-Stuart, the Quaker wife of the Shell Chairman, Mark Moody-Stuart. (Now Sir Mark & Lady Judy Moody-Stuart).

Extract

The latest part of the claim has seen Donovan set up a website attacking Shell, he has also picketed the Shell Centre at Waterloo and disrupted the oil giant’s 100th Anniversary AGM. The latest bizarre development in the case is an intervention in the form of a letter from the wife of Mark Moody-Stuart, the head of Shell International. In her letter to Donovan, Judy Moody-Stuart pleads with Donovan to stop attacking her husband saying ‘I’ve had enough of reading your miserable destructive comments about a great group of people, Shell people, and their organisation’. She then urges Donovan to spend his time working for the charity Centrepoint before wishing him ‘good luck in coming to terms with the world.’ 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 9: Shell did not just steal our ideas

Shell’s retained sales promotion agency, Senior King, complained in writing to Shell senior management about the lack of ethics displayed by Shell’s National Promotions Manager AJL in his dealings with them.

I found evidence of how AJL had also misled the previously mentioned John Armstrong-Homes who put up a promotional idea to Shell. His witness statement is self-explanatory. The same applies to a witness statement from a Mr. Mike McMahon.

Witness Statement of John Armstrong-Holmes

Witness Statement of Mike McMahon

I was the only victim of AJL brave (or foolish) enough to sue Shell.

For some unknown reason, Shell UK executives decided to give AJL their full support despite all that had come to light. 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 11: Shell insider information

We receive insider information about Shell from a variety of sources. From disgruntled Shell employees; from Shell itself in response to Subject Access Requests; from information, Shell has sent to us by accident and from searching and retrieving documents from court files.  We have, for example, published a leaked internal email from an incoming Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc on the same day he sent it, resulting in another huge embarrassment for Shell.

As indicated above, we receive insider information about Shell from a number of different sources.

The first is from Shell itself.

Shell has supplied Shell internal documents and internal emails directly to me in compliance with a series of SAR applications.

The internal documents revealed that Shell secretly set up a counter-measures team and mounted a global spying operation in a determined, but unsuccessful bid to stop the flow of Shell insider information to me.

Another source is from disgruntled Shell employees who have supplied insider information and Shell internal documents and internal emails. 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 12: Shell corporate espionage in more recent years

Shell cloak and dagger activities against me have continued in more recent years but this time on a global basis, as revealed in a Reuters article (extract above). The most recent spying of which I am aware was directed at me, my website and against Shell’s own employees.

I have already listed the various kinds of Shell insider information we receive. It has included confidential internal documents from a high-level source in Shell Global Security.

We discovered that the continued campaigning on our part triggered another bout of sinister activity by Shell, this time targeting my website, myself and Shell employees.

It was the subject of a Reuters article by Tom Bergin published 2 December 2009 under the headline: “Shell critic says oil major targeting his 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

CHAPTER 13: What prompted the more recent sinister activity?

The above logo is for “CAS” – a shadowy Shell Group Corporate Affairs unit populated by spooks led by former high-level MI6 and FBI officers.

James W.D. Hall is Vice President of Corporate Security, located at Royal Dutch Shell plc’s Global Headquarters in the Netherlands. Hall, a mysterious British Citizen, was described in a June 2017 U.S. court document as “the top executive in Shell’s entire Corporate Security Organization…” He is identified by name in a related article “Spectacular falling out of ‘Security Professionals’ at the top of Shell.

I became a target of CAS possibly out concern over my anticipated interest in a set of history books being published about Royal Dutch Shell. They contained information about Shell’s Dutch leadership financial support for Nazi Germany. Also anxiety about my contact with Shell whistleblowers, some of whom leaked confidential Shell emails and documents.

There were a number of issues, which we know from the SAR generated Shell internal emails, was causing significant concern at Shell in 2007 and 2009. They may have been among the factors that triggered sinister activity against us by Shell in that period.

ISSUE: THE THEN PENDING PUBLICATION OF “A HISTORY OF ROYAL DUTCH SHELL” VOLUMES 1 TO 4

On Sunday 11 March 2007, the author of a Shell internal email marked as “Legally Privileged and Confidential,” sent from the Netherlands, expressed anxiety about my anticipated interest in the pending publication of “A History of Royal Dutch Shell” – a work of four volumes, which included information and evidence of Shell’s connection with Hitler and the Nazi party:

Extract

Also D will be scrutinising the new Shell History (out on 5 July) and doubtless making all sorts of new allegations based on it.” 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

CHAPTER 17: News story in February 2015: Shell ship named after a Nazi SS Officer

This closing chapter is about a victory I scored over Shell in 2015. The above screenshot is from an article published in the Financial Times on 5 February 2015.

Extract from the article:

“Royal Dutch Shell is facing a storm of criticism after deciding to proceed with plans to bring a ship named after a Nazi war criminal into UK waters to decommission the Brent oilfield…”

In January 2015, The Observer newspaper published a major article by its chief correspondent Ed Vulliamy under the headline: 

“Jewish outrage as world’s largest ship, named after SS war criminal, arrives in Europe”. 

It reported: “Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS.”

The owner of the ship, Mr Edward Heerema, founder of the Allseas Shipping Group, named his new vessel after his father, a pioneer of the offshore oil industry, Pieter Schelte Heerema. In World War 2, he was an officer in the German Waffen-SS.

The Ed Vulliamy article quoted from a petition I launched online asking Edward Heerema to rename the ship.

John Donovan petition published on change.org

Guardian Online published his article on Saturday 24 January 2015. It appeared in The Observer newspaper the following day.

Ed Vulliamy article published by The Observer and The Guardian Online

Extracts: Cidi cited a petition organised by a British-based website monitoring the affairs of Royal Dutch Shell, the energy group, which trumpeted the ship’s arrival in Rotterdam and which Allseas confirms in a press release to be among its early clients. The site, Royaldutchshellplc.com, is run by John Donovan, a former Shell contractor who is completing a book on the history of the company’s relations with the Third Reich. His petition reads: “Please change the ship’s name so that it no longer sails under the name of a former Waffen-SS officer jailed for war crimes.” Donovan told the Observer: “This public homage by Edward Heerema as the wealthy son of a Nazi war criminal is an affront to the relatives of tens of millions of souls who perished at the hands of Nazi Germany. The name is unacceptable.”

Shell was aware of the intent to name the giant Allseas vessel after a Nazi war criminal but still went ahead with its plans to become one of the first clients to use the ship.

The astonishing story was also covered by Mail Online and many other publishers around the world, including the Dutch equivalent to the Financial Times, a Middle-East focused website and Jewish publications, such as the Jewish Business News and The Jewish Chronicle. 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