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ROYAL DUTCH SHELL CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SHELL WHISTLEBLOWER DR. JOHN HUONG: PART FOUR: THE EMAIL TO HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: 26 MARCH 2006
By Alfred Donovan
This is part four of the
publication of extracts from a letter and "NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE" issued by
TH Liew, the solicitors acting for the EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies
collectively suing Dr Huong for alleged defamation in respect of postings on
The letter and accompanying "NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE" were served on Dr Huong on Wednesday, 15 Match 2006 notifying of Shell's intention to issue contempt of court proceedings against him punishable by imprisonment or fine.
Since I am named in the proceedings and have played the key role in the various internet publications at the heart of the case, I have been asked by Dr Huong and his lawyers to supply an Affidavit testifying to the facts as Dr Huong has to respond to the charges made in the NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE. My draft response in printed in red. All yellow highlighting is mine. All underlining is by Shell lawyers, TH Liew.
Part four extracts deal with sections 8 to 19 of the NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE relating Dr Huong's draft Affidavit and my letter to Human Rights Watch: -
The 7.2.06 publication on the Shellnews.net website
8. You sent a detailed write-up of scandalous allegations of misconduct and wrongdoing by the Plaintiffs and Shell, which you called an 'affidavit*, to Alfred Donovan.
9. Donovan included
this 'affidavit' in a comprehensive letter from him to Human Rights Watch and
copied to his Shellnews.net website. The title of the piece is "The Persecution
of Dr John Huong by a Multinational Giant' It makes numerous scandalous
allegations against the Plaintiffs and Shell. This article
states inter alia thus:
Dr Huong is therefore entitled to ask why the group of EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies are taking action against him rather than me, since I freely admit sending the draft Affidavit to Human Rights Watch containing alleged defamatory allegations. My defence is that the allegations are true. If Shell wishes to take issue with the publisher (me), it has an army of 650 in-house lawyers and I invite them to issue libel proceedings against me, rather than continuing to terrorise the surrogate Defendant, Dr John Huong, who has not published anything.
"SECOND LINK: A draft Affidavit which my son and I helped Dr Huong to prepare for possible use in his defence at some point. Neither he nor his lawyers have approved the draft but it does accurately set out the background facts, certainly in relation to the matters in which we have been personally involved. I appreciate that you must be busy man but I would be grateful if you would glance through the draft. I promise you that it reveals a truly extraordinary situation. If and when his lawyers review the draft I am sure that it will be shortened considerably. I believe the full version has merit in terms of revealing the overall background situation.
http://shell2004.com/ShellNewsnet Original news stories/royal-dutch-shell-group-draft-affidavit-of-dr-john-huong-7-febuary-2006.htm
You will see from the draft Affidavit that Dr Huong is not the only Malaysian former employee of Shell who is being treated with utter contempt by Shell. They are other cases against Shell. A Judge has already decided a case brought by a group of 399 former Shell employees known as "Team A". He ruled that Shell made unlawful deductions in breach of the Employees Provident Fund Act 1951 and 1991. The case has dragged on for years and Shell is currently appealing the decision. In the meantime, members of the group are elderly, sick, and dying."
I honestly believe that the situation is obscene bearing in mind the recently announced annual income of Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive, Mr Jeroen van der Veer ($8.3 million USD) and the fleet of luxury private jets purchased for the use of Shell executives.
10. A link from this article leads to another portion of Donovan's Shellnews.net website which contains your 'affidavit'.
11. You were not given leave from Court to file such an affidavit It has therefore obviously been prepared as an excuse to makes further scandalous allegations against the Plaintiffs in particular and Shell generally in the hope to secure protection under the cover of court proceedings. As Donovan was allowed to retain this draft 'affidavit', he clearly did so as your servant or agent. You 'caused' its publication in breach of the Order.
12. The affidavit is a massive 72-page scandalous inflammatory diatribe against Shell at large. Your 'affidavit' includes the following assertions:
"I believe that Shell management treated me this way in the expectation that I would either resign or adopt a servile attitude, including turning a blind eye to management violations of the Shell Statement of General Business Principles. I believe that this was the fundamental reason why Shell management was hostile towards me. I was even told by two well engineers that their team leader had instructed that I was "not to walk along his corridor". Such unprofessional childish nonsense was totally out of order because my operational geological work required me to discuss matters face-to-face with his engineers. It was also humiliating in the extreme that the Team Leader conveyed his instructions via individuals I had to work with. That was insulting to me and highly embarrassing for staff involved.
Such shabby and inhumane treatment was inflicted on me after I had consistently promoted and protected Shell's best interests during my work. My adherence to the ethical codes enshrined in the Statement of General Business Principles; the Health, Safety and Environmental policy guidelines: and the Human Resource Policy and Procedures Manual were not appreciated. Instead I was abused and crucified by Shell's management and its officials.
I believe such actions were in violation of all ethical norms and constituted serious breaches of my Human Rights under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights - rights which Shell purports to support.
The current defamation law suit against me by EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies also constitutes a breach of my rights to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience accorded to me and fellow human beings under the aforementioned United Nations Declaration.
The fact that it was deemed necessary for EIGHT Shell companies to collectively sue one unemployed Malaysian seems to be a classic case of overkill. It would have already been an uneven struggle even if only one such company had directed its wrath (and retribution) against me."
I confirm that the draft Affidavit was published by me as CORRECTLY stated by the Plaintiff companies. Dr Huong is therefore entitled to ask why the group of EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies are taking action against him rather than me. As Shell is aware, my defence is that the "massive 72-page scandalous inflammatory diatribe against Shell at large" sets out the truth, which is consequently a complete Defence. If Shell wishes to take issue with the publisher (me), it has an army of 650 in-house lawyers. I challenge them to issue libel proceedings against me, rather than continuing to terrorise the surrogate Defendant, Dr John Huong, who has not published anything on my websites - not a single word.
13. There are also specific allegations of wrongdoing and misconduct against the Plaintiffs:
'There are also lawsuits in progress in Malaysia against Shell which have been brought by its former employees. One High Court case involves a group of 399 former Shell employees known as "Team A". Their action relates to deductions made by Shell to their Employee Providence Fund. A judge has already ruled that the deductions were "unlawful". Shell has appealed that decision apparently in an attempt to exploit a legal loophole relating to time limits. This appears to be a ploy by Shell to evade its moral responsibilities to its former employees. News reports related to this distressing case are published on the Donovan website.
Current employees and employees who had resigned after 1997 were persuaded by the company to opt for a Defined Contributory Scheme (DCS). The relevant employees wrongly thought that Shell management was acting in their best interests. It turned out however to be a detrimental move for the relevant employees and a financially beneficial manoeuvre for Shell Eventually the company paid an ex-gratia payment plus adjustments for the DCS holders in early 2004 provided they were willing to sign off a letter of undertaking not to pursue legal action against the company in future.
In a related question and answer leaflet, published by Shell, employees such as me, who have been dismissed, would not be entitled to receive any such ex-gratia payments, nor the adjustment paid to other employees. Therefore, the representation by Sarawak Shell Berhad to me of the alleged benefits in the Defined Contributory Scheme and my subsequent dismissal under the most extraordinary circumstances has caused me to be prejudiced and to suffer financial loss and financial insecurity.
I too have been severely penalised by what I consider to be completely improper decisions made in respect of Shell employee pension funds. The Malaysian people are by nature (in my humble assessment) fairly docile, dedicated and basically decent human beings. The fact that several hundred hard-working and loyal Shell employees felt compelled to institute legal proceedings against their former employer speaks absolute volumes. I am truly appalled by the Royal Dutch Shell Groups' unscrupulous heartless treatment of the sick, elderly and dying, as reported by the Malaysian news media. I believe that such conduct is indeed evil and in line with Shell's management actions in other Countries e.g. Nigeria, Africa, South America, Nicaragua, Caribbean, USA, Canada, Russia, Vietnam, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, County Mayo in Ireland, etc."
14. All the highlighted portions allege misconduct against the Plaintiffs and Shell generally and are in clear and blatant breach of the Order.
Dr Huong was asked by his lawyers to prepare a draft Affidavit. I have a copy of the relevant email dated 7 December 2005. The relevant sentence states: “The next step to take is to prepare the Defence and the Affidavit in Reply.”
Since Dr Huong found the task to be daunting and knowing our experience in preparing Witness Statements in respect of our series of High Court actions against Shell, he sought our help just before Christmas. We worked throughout Christmas and the New Year to assist in the preparation of the draft Affidavit. We were able to contribute because we have input about Shell from so many sources. Our website, which contains almost 9,000 web pages, is a unique hub for information – all about Shell. We collate and publish all articles, positive and negative about Shell.
When it became apparent that contrary to expectations the draft was not immediately required, my son and I took the decision (having devoted our entire Christmas/New Year holiday period to the project and being pleased with the result) that the document contained such a wealth of factual information that it should be published. It was a decision taken entirely by my son and me, not by Dr Huong. We never asked for his permission to publish it. We have never operated on that basis. We published it entirely on our own initiative and accept full responsibility for doing so. It was not a case of Dr Huong sending us a copy. Having been involved at ever step including the final proof reading, we already had a copy of what, as far as I know, was the draft supplied by Dr Huong to his lawyer.
Dr Huong presumably supplied a copy to his solicitors on the basis that when required, they would use it to prepare an Affidavit for supply to the Court edited into a suitable form. Thus we knew that the only way that the entire impressive draft affidavit was likely to be put into the public domain as a unique source of information was if we published it ourselves.
The 8.2.06 Shellnews.net publication
15. Alfred Donovan forwarded your 'affidavit' to Human Rights Watch. You then wrote to Human Rights Watch to confirm the truth of the contents of the
'affidavit' that Donovan had forwarded to them. A link to this article is found at the Donovan's ShellNetnews website under the heading 'Dr Huong confirms
accuracy of dynamite indictment of Shell'. Your letter was copied to Alfred Donovan and is published with a commentary by him:
Dr. John Huong
Sarawak, East Malaysia
Mr. James Ross
Senior Legal Adviser
Human Rights Watch HQ
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA
Tel: 1-(212) 290-4700, Fax: 1-(212) 73&1300
Date: 8th February 2006.
Dear Mr. Ross,
This email is in connection with the communication which I believe you have received earlier today from Mr. Alfred Donovan from Shellnews.net.
I want to put on record the facts that I have not authorized publication of the Draft Affidavit and/or the Communication sent to Human Rights Watch.
The publication is entirely a matter for the Donovans.
I had not sanctioned the Draft Affidavit published on the Donovan website.
Having said that, I do not take issue with anything stated in the Draft Affidavit, bearing in mind that I am under threat of imprisonment and it would not be prudent for me to comment further on this matter other than to state in general terms that I support freedom of expression.
Dr. John Huong
Mr. Alfred Donovan
END OF DR HUONG LETTER TO HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH COMMENT ADDED BY ALFRED DONOVAN
I note that Dr Huong has not taken issue with the accuracy of the content of his draft Affidavit. This is unsurprising since he was the author (but not the publisher).
16. In this letter you admit that the 'affidavit' is yours and contend that it states the truth.
17. You could have written on a 'private and confidential' basis to James Ross. You did not choose this course. Instead, you intentionally copied your letter to Donovan with the certain and clear knowledge - given recent publications - that it would be published. You thereby publicly confirmed the allegations of
wrongful conduct, fraud etc alleged in your 'affidavit'. This is in breach of the Order.
The email is self-explanatory and correct. We did not seek permission from Dr Huong to write to Human Rights Watch. It was entirely at our initiative. When Dr Huong discovered that we had sent a communication he felt compelled to make it clear to James Ross that he had not authorised the approach or the publication of the draft Affidavit. He copied the email to me since my name was mentioned and I took the decision to publish the email. Dr Huong could not be certain of publication since he does not own or operate the websites in question. Publication was at our discretion. Once again I accept full responsibility.
18. Our clients intend to issue contempt proceedings against you for the above breaches of the Order.
The allegations of contempt are based on an attempt to blame the Defendant for publications made on my website by me (and/or my son) at my responsibility. I am not in contempt of any court order as I am not subject to the legal jurisdiction of the High Court of Malaya and in any event apparently have been granted a freedom of expression on the internet by Shell not afforded to Dr Huong.
Based on the true facts set out by me herein, the Defendant has not acted in contempt. He has never owned or operated any website. There has never been a website called “Whistleblower No. 2” as has been incorrectly alleged. Dr Huong has never posted anything, not a single word on any website associated with me.
If there are legal issues to be decided then I am the key player not the Defendant, Dr Huong. My son and I freely admit that we have our own agenda and it would be wrong for the Defendant to be penalised for our actions.
In other words, the Plaintiff companies should bring proceedings against me not the Defendant but of course they will run into difficulties as there is no defamation if what is stated is true. I also have special written dispensation from the ROYAL DUTCH SHELL GROUP in regards to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ON THE INTERNET. I refer to the aforementioned statement issued by Shell International Petroleum Company Limited on behalf of the Royal Dutch Shell Group to The World Intellectual Property Organisation acknowledging my Shell given right to criticise Shell.
19. We therefore now provide you with this formal notice for you to show cause within 10 days of its service on you, why you should not be committed to prison or fined for the above contempt.
Dated this 9* day of March, 2006.
MESSRS T H LIEW & PARTNERS
SOLICITORS FOR THE PLAINTIFFS
This Notice to Show Cause is issued by Messrs T H Liew & Partners, solicitors for the Plaintiffs abovenamed and whose address for service is at 4-02, 4* Floor, Straits Trading Building, 2, Lebuh Pasar Besar, 50050 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : 03-26129000
Fax : 03-26129001
Ref : LTH/SHELL/00011-04
If YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE EARLIER EXTRACTS - PART 1, 2 & 3 THEY ARE ACCESSIBLE VIA THE LINKS BELOW: -
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL "NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE" PROCEEDINGS AGAINST DR. HUONG: PART ONE: 23 March 2006: READ
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL IMPRISONMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST DR. HUONG: PART TWO: 24 March 2006: READ
"NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE" CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST DR. HUONG: PART THREE: THE EMAIL TO JYOTI MUNSIFF (CHIEF ETHICS AND COMPLIANCE OFFICER FOR ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC): 24 MARCH 2006: READ
The final part of my draft Affidavit, this time
covering points raised in Shell's recent REPLY to the Defence filed by Dr Huong,
will be published tomorrow.
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