By John Donovan of RoyalDutchShellPlc.com
Royal Dutch Shell lawyers blunder by issuing defamation proceedings against the wrong party, in the wrong Country in respect of the wrong website
As part of libel proceedings launched in June 2004 against a Shell whistleblower, Dr John Huong, eight companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group collectively obtained multiple High Court injunctions relating to the website recently described by the Financial Times as being anti-Shell and â€œa long term thorn in the side of Shellâ€: www.royaldutchshellplc.com
The website, instigated and operated by a British 90 year old war veteran, Alfred Donovan, is probably the most famous gripe site in the world.
A current newsletter â€œAccountability in Actionâ€ published by the One World Trust, an independent research organisation linked with the UK Houses of Parliament and the United Nations, credits his blogsite as having a â€œprofound impactâ€ on Shell. It says that it has cost Shell billions: http://www.oneworldtrust.org/?display=accnewsjul07
(Link to articles by The Wall Street Journal and other publishers about Donovan and his website: http://www.shellnews.net/blog/links.html)
The proceedings were stalled for over a year following a High Court application by the Shell plaintiff companies for Donovan to be compelled to be cross examined in Malaysia about evidence given by him in an affidavit. Basically Donovan testified that he, not Dr Huong, was responsible for posting and publishing the series of blog articles alleged by Shell to contain libellous allegations against the oil giant.
On Monday 3 August 2007, Michiel Brandjes, the Company Secretary and General Counsel Corporate of the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, wrote to Donovan notifying him that although a court had decided that his cross examination could be carried out by video conference, the Shell Malaysian plaintiff companies had â€œwaived the right to cross examin you on your affidavit altogether in this matter on compassionate groundsâ€.
On 8 August 2007, Donovan sent an email Mr Saw Choo Boon, the Chairman of Shell Malaysia, reminding Shell that he had over three years ago notified the trail Judge (and Shell) that the eight plaintiff Shell companies were suing the wrong party in the wrong Country in respect of the wrong website. Shell had issued proceedings naming a website which has never existed and were suing Dr Huong, a Malaysian national, instead of him. He pointed out that the whole proceedings were a complete fiasco and that the pantomime has been allowed to drag on for over three years, thereby costing Shell shareholders a fortune in legal costs.
Donovan also alleged in his published email that Shellâ€™s reputation is so bad after the securities fraud in 2004 and other alleged debacles, such as being forced out of its majority holding in the $26 billion Sakhaln-2 project in Russia, that it has no reputation left to lose. He cites independent evidence supporting this contention in his email to the Shell Chairman. Donovan also contends that the alleged libellous comments were in any event well founded and that truth is a complete defence in libel law.
The litigation continues.