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Open Letter To Terence Conway, Shell to Sea Campaign


14 August 2008

Dear Mr Conway

I was interested to read about the surveillance currently being carried out by Shell security operatives at the Corrib gas pipeline landfall locality. I understand that allegedly, even children have been the subject of Shell spying.

I was a guest on the Eamon Dunphy Breakfast Show broadcast from Dublin on 4 August 2005 (Dublin Newstalk Radio 106fm). The discussion covered future likely developments in the Corrip pipeline controversy. The other guests in the live discussion were John Beasant, the co-author of “Shell Shock – the secrets and spin of an oil giant” and Dr Mark Garavan, the spokesman for the then jailed “Rossport Five” who had been imprisoned at the behest of Shell.

We discussed my prediction that Shell would use undercover agents to gather intelligence against the Corrib protest group. I mentioned our own experiences with Shell arising from a series of High Court Actions and said that we had cornered Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman into admitting using an undercover agent who used fake credentials and a fake company in the course of his sleazy clandestine mission against us. John Beasant said that the material uncovered in the research stages of his book supported what I was saying about Shell.

In this connection, I wondered if you were aware of an article published by the NEWSTATESMAN on 7 August 2008 under the headline “The new spies”.

The following is the subtitle followed by the opening paragraphs…

When the Cold War ended, it didn’t spell curtains for the secret agent. Private espionage is a booming industry and environmental protest groups are its prime target

As you hunker down for the last few days of the Camp for Climate Action, discussing how to force your way into Kingsnorth power station in an attempt to prevent the construction of a new coal facility, cast your eyes around your fellow protesters. Do they look entirely bona fide to you? And don’t look for the old-school special branch officers – Kent Police are a tiny force. It’s the corporate spies hired by private companies you need to watch out for.

According to the private espionage industry itself, roughly one in four of your comrades is on a multinational’s payroll.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion after reading the article that around 25% of your fellow activists work for Shell or its agents. This will be disconcerting news, but it is as well to be aware of the degree of corporate espionage using companies such as Hakluyt & Company Limited whose activities on behalf of Shell was mentioned in an ABC News article published on 8 August 2008.

In 2001, the British government launched an inquiry into a private intelligence firm with links to the U.K.’s MI6 spy service for infiltrating environmental activist groups to gather information to sell to oil companies, including Royal Dutch/Shell Group and BP, the Times of London reported.

At the time of the undercover activities exposed by The Sunday Times, Hakluyt and Shell had common directors and shareholders. Two titled directors of Shell Transport – Sir Peter Holmes and Sir William Purves – were in fact the ultimate spymaster’s of Hakluyt. Documents obtained from Companies House in the UK confirm their directorships and shareholdings in both companies.

The Sunday Times article: MI6 ‘firm’ spied on green groups.

We must all be on our guard when campaigning against such an unscrupulous multinational which spends millions promoting its claimed code of business ethics – honesty, integrity and respect for people – while secretly practising the black arts of deception, infiltration and subversion, in an attempt to crush lawful opposition to its ruthless plans.

This is a company which puts profit even before the lives of its employees.

Yours sincerely
John Donovan

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