Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Rossport Five may have grounds to bring wrongful imprisonment claim against Shell: 00.50am Sunday 7 August 2005


By John Donovan


On Thursday I was a guest on Eamon Dunphy's Breakfast Radio Show (on Dublin Radio for a discussion about the Shell Corrib pipeline controversy and the imprisonment of the “Rossport 5”. A transcript of my contribution to the debate, when I was asked to substantiate my prediction that Shell would engage in undercover activity can be accessed via this link: Read the article 


In fact, Shell has a track record of mounting spying operations against pressure groups protesting against its activities (MI6 'Firm' Spied on Green Groups (Sunday Times archive article 17 June 2001)


I therefore publicly challenge Irish Shell Chairman Andy Pyle to state in categorical terms that Shell or its advisors/agents have not used undercover/enquiry agents in connection with the Corrib protestors or the Corrib pipeline project. If he does not respond to this challenge, then the public will be able to draw the appropriate conclusion. A letter saying he has no personal knowledge will not suffice. I invite him to check the situation out and then make an unequivocal statement.  


Personally I have nothing but admiration for the Rossport 5 who, like me, object to being trampled on by an aggressive, ruthless, multinational bully, whose recent history is mired by scandal and incompetence on a breathtaking scale. 


I suppose that we can at least be thankful that in Ireland, Shell has only had the Corrib protest leaders incarcerated.  In Nigeria, innocent leaders of the Ogoni protest movement were hanged by the corrupt military regime which worked closely with Shell in the exploitation and despoliation of Ogoniland. Shell has reportedly extracted over $30 billion US dollars in oil and gas from the Nigerian Delta, yet the local population still lives in abject poverty. Contrast this fact with the disgraced former Shell Chairman, Sir Philip Watts, who left Shell last year with a title and a pension pot worth $18 million dollars, despite destroying Shell’s reputation as a result of the reserves scandal.


Eight Royal Dutch Shell companies subsequently had the audacity to sue reserves whistleblower, Dr John Huong, for libel, claiming he had destroyed Shell's reputation. In fact Shell's reputation had already been ruined because it's unscrupulous management chose to ignore his conscience driven warning, as a Shell Production Geologist, about Shell deceiving its shareholders over its hydrocarbon reserves. Dr Huong also blew the whistle on important safety issues in relation to the Kinabalu oil platform and Shell's accident prone helicopter fleet.


Thank goodness there are still people like the Rossport Five and Dr Huong who have the guts to stand up to multinationals which possess more power and financial muscle than many countries. The Rossport Five have (like Dr Huong) demonstrated that they have such courage in spades having stuck resolutely to their principles, despite being jailed and separated from their loves ones since the end of June.  


Shell has already caved in to a considerable extent and will likely go the whole hog very shortly by withdrawing their legal action. The Rossport Five may well have grounds to bring a substantial claim against Shell for wrongful imprisonment, bearing in mind that Shell allegedly gave false information to the courts in support of the application for committal and reportedly victimised the Rossport Five, while taking no action against other individuals who had acted in the same way. The longer the Rossport Five are incarcerated on false evidence, the greater the potential damages. Fortunately money is of little consequence to Shell given its humongous profits resulting from the record high oil prices. However money would obviously be needed to fund any such litigation.


The following information on making donations to support the Rossport Five is taken from the “Sea to Shell” website:


Account Name: The Rossport Five Fund
Bank: Ulster Bank
Address: Main Street, Belmullet, Co Mayo
Sort Code: 98-53-14
Account Number: 23987020
For International Transfers also use:
IBAN: IE74 ULSB 9853 1423 9870 20

LEGAL STATEMENT BY THE ROYAL DUTCH SHELL GROUP REGARDING THIS WEBSITE: I, Alfred Donovan, would like to remind Shell lawyers that the "group" has placed on record its acknowledgement of my freedom to air my opinions about Shell on I did of course already have rights under various freedom of expression conventions and declarations but its nice to know that Shell, one of the multinational rulers of our planet, recognises this fact. The Royal Dutch Shell Group made the following unusual statement in a legal document in regards to this website: - "The... Group... have been aware of the site since the beginning and whilst they would not endorse or agree with many of the comments made by the Respondent on the website, they have taken the view that the Respondent is entitled to express his opinions and to use the Internet as a medium for doing so." This statement drafted by Shell lawyers and authorised by the "Group", amounts to tacit approval/acceptance/recognition of this website by Shell. It was submitted to The World Intellectual Property Organisation in May 2005 by Shell International Petroleum Company Limited on behalf of the Royal Dutch Shell Group in proceedings against me, Alfred Donovan, as the "Respondent" (owner) of three domain names, including It remains a mystery why Shell has taken an entirely different view regarding the fundamental human right to freedom of expression in respect of the former Shell geologist Dr John Huong, the well-known Shell whistle-blower, in relation to postings under his name elsewhere on this same website. Eight companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group collectively obtained a High Court Injunction to silence him. The Injunction remains in force.

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