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"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
By Alfred Donovan
This is part three 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. Shell has some expertise in this area having had the "ROSSPORT FIVE" committed to prison in Ireland last year the day after the most important ROYAL DUTCH SHELL dual AGM's in the history of the Anglo Dutch Group. It is fair to say that Shell management came to regret that move which resulted in an International PR disaster. Shell backed down in a spectacular U-TURN three months later and took steps to ensure that the five martyrs who opposed the Corrib pipeline were released from incarceration.
It will be interesting to see the timing on this imprisonment threat, bearing in mind the fast approaching inaugural AGM of ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC. Will Shell management be willing to risk another PR debacle which will inevitably focus even more attention on the matters raised by Dr Huong and on publications made on my websites? It is quite a poker game. All in all, a no win situation for Shell.
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 three extracts deal with sections 5, 6 & 7 of the NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE: -
The 2.2.06 publication of your letter to Jyoti Munsiff on the Shellnews.net website
5. You wrote this letter to Jyoti Munsiff:
"Congratulations on your appointment as Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer for Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
As you know I am being sued by eight companies of the Royal Dutch Shell Group for alleged defamation. The relevant Shell companies have obtained a restraining order which prevents me for speaking the TRUTH in line with the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights. My rights to freedom of expression have in fact been restrained for over 18 months. I had thought that Shell supported this UN Declaration, but it seems that this assumption must be incorrect. I would welcome your clarification on this point as I am sure that my analysis must be at fault?
I am also perplexed by the fact that Shell apparently allows Mr. Alfred Donovan to publish negative commentary about Shell on his website unhindered while I have been sued for articles posted by him on his website under my name? Mr. Donovan has also published an extract from a legal submission purportedly made by Shell International to the World Intellectual Property Organisation in which Shell stated that it supports the right of Mr. Alfred Donovan to criticise Shell on his website. I have also read the November 2005 email to Alfred Donovan from Shell International General Counsel Mr. Richard Wiseman in which Mr Wiseman confirms how tolerant Shell is of Mr. Donovan's postings on his website. I trust that you can appreciate why I am so puzzled at the apparent disparity in treatment. I am sure there must be a logical explanation?
It therefore seems appropriate to ask you in your new capacity whether the relevant postings by Mr. Donovan i.e. the claimed extract from Shell's submission to the WIPO and the November 2005 email from Mr. Wiseman are genuine? Surely they must be false??? Why would Shell encourage Mr. Donovan to indulge in his rights to freedom of expression while simultaneously adopting a totally different approach towards me? Something really must be seriously amiss. The answers to my questions are important if - as I assume must be the case - you genuinely want to encourage whistleblowers to speak out if they become aware of misdeeds which are in contravention of the Shell Statement of General Business Principles (SGBP).
It is surely essential in this regard that an even-handed approach is adopted in such matters so that would be whistleblowers and parties with genuine grievances are not deterred by the prospect that they could be ostracized, victimized, sacked and/or sued if they do come forward. In regards to this paragraph I am speaking of course in general terms, not about my case, as that would be inappropriate under the current ongoing litigation.
This letter also seeks confirmation from you for me to make significant inputs for improving ethics and compliance at Shell. I sincerely believe that for obvious reasons I have a unique perspective on the question of Shell employees engaging professionally in whistle blowing when faced with ethical, moral and/or legal dilemmas.
I also believe that it is fair to make readers of this communication aware that apart from the High Court Restraining Order, I am also constrained in my comments by a threat of imprisonment.
I am sure that the eight Royal Dutch Shell companies who collectively decided to sue me believe that their action is an appropriate and proportionate response to the alleged defamatory comments by one former Malaysian employee of 29 years.
Dr. John Huong
Note: This letter will also be copied to Mr. Alfred Donovan because his name was also mentioned."
6. You knew and intended this letter for general circulation. That is why you copied it to Alfred Donovan. You knew that he would publish it. This is the only reason why you referred to your desire to 'make readers of this communication aware' etc. Further, the assertion that you have been prevented from 'speaking the TRUTH' is a clear publication in breach of the Order. This is an allegation that the Plaintiffs and Shell have committed wrongs and sought to mislead the court on them.
DRAFT AFFIDAVIT TESTIMONY FROM ALFRED DONOVAN
Dr Huong contacted us after reading a leaked Shell internal communication published on our website which was received from a Shell insider. The leaked communication was an internal email circulated by Jyoti Munsiff, the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
Dr Huong considered that it provided an opportunity for him to respond in a positive way to the content by sending an email to Ms Munsiff setting out an offer of supplying his advice relating to her area of responsibility and asking some related questions about his own situation. From what I can recall, Dr Huong hoped that it might stimulate some constructive dialogue and perhaps be seen as a peace gesture. If so, it seems that it fell somewhat short of that worthy ambition.
We assisted in drafting the email and were responsible for the sentence which included the phrase “readers of this communication”. This was included because we correctly anticipated that Ms Munsiff/Shell would circulate copies to various individuals both in the UK, the Netherlands and in Malaysia. Shell will confirm that this is what did in fact happen. We correctly anticipated that there would be many other readers of the communication. We made the point to Dr Huong that this was a forgone conclusion and persuaded him to include it on that basis. Hence we thought for the above reasons that it would be a widely read email irrespective of any act on our part. The fact that the content of the email is now quoted in its entirety by lawyers in Malaysia is further proof that our forecast was correct. All publications on my websites are scrutinised by Shell lawyers who, unfortunately for them, are compelled to read the output. They are of course compensated for the onerous task.
There may have been a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the inclusion of the comment in question because Dr Huong is rightly or wrongly convinced that his communications are under surveillance. He has changed his email addresses numerous times after experiencing difficulties accessing email accounts using the password and user names originally set up. He also apparently had almost continuous mysterious problems with his computer. Likewise he strongly suspects surveillance of his telephone conversations.
This could all be dismissed as paranoia if it were not for the fact that Shell has previously admitted using undercover agents who have engaged in clandestine spying missions on Shell’s behalf. An article by The Sunday Times in the UK containing the admission is published on our website. The aforementioned Mr Richard Wiseman has also admitted in writing the “activities” of an “enquiry agent” who we caught red handed examining private mail at our offices. The gentleman in question used a fake business card and a fake company in the course of his undercover mission against us on behalf of Shell which occurred during the run up to the trial in the last High Court action my son brought against Shell.
My family and the solicitor representing my son John were besieged by other undercover activity during this period. We can only speculate about who may have been responsible. Shell International General Counsel, Richard Wiseman, has categorically denied several times, as recently as November 2005, that Shell had any connection with the additional underhand/criminal activities, some of which were investigated by the Police. Despite the denial by Mr Wiseman, Shell was sufficiently concerned by the credibility of the evidence we produced to hold an inquiry at Shell-Mex House in London.
Although Dr Huong was not aware of it, we had intended to send copies of the Munsiff email to our network of Shell insiders who supply us with an invaluable regular flow of commentary, insider information and leaked Shell internal documents and communications. However we decided at our own initiative, without reference to Dr Huong, that we may as well just publish the email on the website. We do not accept that anything stated therein was defamatory. The content was topical and gave us the opportunity to further embarrass Shell in respect of the leaked email. We had already published numerous articles covering the facts to which the Plaintiff companies seem to have taken exception. In any event I confirm for the record that we published the email on the internet without the consent or knowledge of Dr Huong and take full responsibility.
7. The allegations of misconduct against the Plaintiffs and Shell are made manifest when read with your Defence - also published on the ShellNews.net website - which makes serious defamatory allegations against companies in the Shell Group. The allegation is that the substance of your Defence is this 'TRUTH'. This is clearly a breach of the Order.
What allegations of misconduct? The email consists of undisputed fact - as unlikely as it seems, EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies are suing Dr Huong for alleged defamation. They have obtained a Restraining Order which prevents Dr Huong from exercising his rights to freedom of expression under the UN Universal Declaration of fundamental human rights. There is evidence on Shell's own portal website that Shell claims to support this Declaration. These are examples of a number of statements of fact in the email. It also contains some associated questions and genuinely made offers.
The problem is that Shell lawyers appear to be making negative assumptions - perhaps in the context of having a guilty conscience - rather than reading what is actually stated in the email from Dr Huong to Ms Munsiff.
As already indicated, the Defence document was already in the public domain. Shell General Counsel Richard Wiseman is on record arguing that it is legally permissible to publish court documents which are already in the public domain. I have already included the relevant email correspondence in this draft Affidavit.
PART THREE ARTICLE ENDS
PS. If you are a member of "Team A" - the 399 former Shell Malaysian employees awaiting a decision on Shell's appeal against the High Court verdict that Shell "unlawfully" deducted money from your retirement fund, stay tuned. Your situation is mentioned in the NOTICE TO SHOW CAUSE contempt proceedings against your courageous equally oppressed compatriot and fellow former employee of Shell, Dr John Huong. That interesting extract will be published within the next couple of days.
If YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE EARLIER EXTRACTS - PART 1 & 2, 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
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