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Former HSE Group Auditor of Shell International calls in Police to investigate senior Shell officials and executives

By John Donovan

Bill Campbell, the former HSE Group Auditor has formally asked Grampian Police to investigate alleged criminal offences involving senior Shell officials and executives (and other parties). This is in relation to the Brent Bravo “Touch Fuck All” scandal uncovered by an audit team led by Campbell and the subsequent avoidable accident which cost the lives of two Shell workers.

The following email to RDS Plc Company Secretary Michiel Brandjes and RDS Plc Chairman Jorma Ollila was sent by Bill Campbell on Wednesday 3 September. The individuals involved are Gordon Muir, Greg Hill, Richard Sykes and Jakob Stausholm. The statement mentioned has been submitted to Grampian Police who have acknowledged receipt. 


I need to make you aware that you are named on a statement that will be supplied to Grampian police shortly.  I first communicated to Grampian police in July this year my concerns about the role of HSE officials in their dealings with Shell related to the follow up to the Brent Bravo fatalities.  These concerns are documented in a Public Statement which the Company Secretary is privy to which was also copied to the Police.

You are probably aware that at the highest level, see the attached copy of a letter to me from the Company Secretary, that Shell have always denied that the 1999 so called PSMR audit was mishandled and they state in their public pronouncements that the failures verified to exist in 1999 were vigorously pursued resulting in continuous improvement in the period leading up to the accident. Jorma Ollila, the Chairman of RDS has committed the entire non executive Board to this lie.
What Shell actually said is ted below is from the Shell statement issued by Greg Hill when acting as Crisis Response Team Leader in June 2003.

Response to Upstream article on Shell and North Sea safety


You may be aware that the Upstream trade magazine has today (16 June 2006) published an article making a number of very serious allegations against Shell in its operation of the Brent field and some very personal, and completely unjustified, attacks on current and former members of Shell’s staff and management. Shell strongly refutes these allegations.

Safety is Shell’s foremost priority at all times and we absolutely reject any suggestion that we would compromise safety offshore. In 1999, Shell initiated the Platform Safety Management Review, in which Mr Campbell was asked to participate, and responded vigorously to its findings. A follow up implementation audit conducted at the end of 2000 confirmed significant progress had been made on both asset integrity and management systems. This contributed to the continuous improvement in Shell’s safety performance that has been achieved since 1999 in the North Sea. In late 2004, Mr. Campbell made allegations to Shell about his perception of a lack of follow-up to the PSMR. Shell took his claims very seriously and a thorough investigation concluded his perception was not supported by the evidence, neither were the serious allegations concerning individuals. We are currently reviewing our legal position and reserve all our rights in respect of resorting to legal action to protect our reputation and that of our current and former staff.

Safety is, and will remain our first priority at all times. 

Now you are aware that this statement has significant shortcomings.  Your post fatalities Technical Integrity Review which so shocked Greg Hill at the time you presented it to him shows an appalling state of affairs not only on Brent Bravo but on 16 other installations contained in the data. Your correspondence to me (see attached) and the data from your Review will be passed to Grampian Police.

You will note in the letter from the Chairman that he is satisfied with the statements made at the time by Greg Hill and that my concerns were investigated fully.  What your investigation did not reveal was that Greg Hill presented the findings of Gordon Muir and his team to HSE officials in November 2003 only weeks after the fatal accident.  That this happened was confirmed before independent witnesses at a meeting with HSE and is also provided in writing by Ian Whewell who is currently the Head of the HSE department in Aberdeen dealing with offshore safety.   What I am not sure about is were you deceived or did you purposefully withhold this information from me?

Whatever, what you will be expected to confirm with Grampian Police is that indeed you did carry out an investigation into the follow-up by Shell of the 1999 audit reporting to the CEO in July 2005 but that your findings were that there was no evidence presented to you that the immediate actions to reduce risks in 1999 were ever undertaken and that further the longer term actions to correct the negative safety culture were truncated by late 2000 when only 20% complete, and that further the then MD Malcolm Brinded considered replacing the then Asset Manager but did not do so because he was concerned about that individuals mental stability.  Your investigation uncovered many other shortcomings but these are the three that will notify the Police about.
Anyway I made you aware some time ago that your telephone conversation to me in 2006 was recorded.  Grampian Police will be made aware of that fact and will make use of this evidence as they see fit.  Your telephone call to me showed compassion for my position and I thank you for that and you apologised in the conversation for your inability to influence the statements issued by Greg Hill from which you clearly dissociate yourself.  
It seems that however you tend to dress it up, or justify it to yourself, what you as the then Shell EP Senior Auditor, and Richard as a senior Shell official allowed an injustice to be committed against a Shell employee and against Society as a whole by in a cowardly way allowing yourself to be cowed and bullied into accepting the public and internal statements made by Shell which you knew at the time to be false and misleading without taking any action to counteract this.
We see from this example exactly similar behaviour to that of the reserves debacle and the role of the Group Auditor in what was published to be a much improved governance process to prevent a recurrence of the reserves fiasco was essentially worthless because you did not have the guts to stand your ground.
When, or if, given a chance to redress this injustice I am sure in your discussions with the Police you will confirm all the above as an accurate account.  I understand you will be under some considerable pressure as you were in June 2006 because your evidence when provided will have serious consequencies not only to the reputation of Shell but that of the Chairman and the Board but you are no doubt aware that if interviewed by the Police that to give false and misleading statements to them is an offence, waste of Police time obstruction of justice, etc.  The importance of the taped evidence is that you will tell the truth despite the pressures on you not to do so.  I have no doubt that Gordon Muir will also.
Through the provision of this information to the Police I want to establish that Press releases issued by Shell in relation to the  follow up from the 1999 Audit were false and misleading and in fact from 1999  till 2003 there had been a sustained decline in essential controls offshore as witnessed by the systemic failures presented by Greg Hill to the HSE (the post fatalities Technical Integrity Review) in  November 2003, and that this decline contributed at least indirectly to the fatal accident.  This evidence will be used in the allegations against HSE officials in that they purposefully failed to act on the information when it was provided to them by Hill.  
You should be aware that this process could be truncated if Shell would issue a Press Release in line with the underlined above thus protecting your name and preventing your involvement in a Police investigation, however they have declined that olive branch.
You can be sure that your Chairman appears to have little or no interest in you as individuals and will discount any concerns that you have in favour of protecting your erstwhile leaders.  What you can do is assure the Chairman that if interviewed by the Police you will have no alternative but to confirm the validity of the statements I make and if the Chairman has not been supplied with accurate information from the CEO and Executive Director of SHELL EP then now is an opportunity for you to correct this by making him aware of fthe acts that may have otherwise been witheld from him.

I require to make a statement to Grampian Police by 9th September in which I will name Gordon Muir as a key witness along with Jakob Stausholm and for secondary information and validation John Madden who was a member of post Fatality Technical Integrity Review Team team in 2003 and provided a link with 1999 as he was also a member of the PSMR team.  Richard Sykes will also be named for validation if required by the police.
I have copied Greg Hill because if the preliminary investigation into the conduct of Tom McLaren and Taf Powell goes ahead and substantiates that they purposefully failed to enforce improvements on Shell at the time he presented the data to them by the issue of Enforcement Notices, etc.and that they did this in collusion with Hill who allowed offshore installations to continue to operate whilst in a dangerous condition, and that he did not assess the risks of so doing, and did not notify the workforce of these risks, as required by Law much of this being recorded in documented evidence provided to me by HSE, then he will be required to explain all this and also therfore why he authorised public statements in 2003 that he knew were false and misleading.  
In my statement to the Police which I will copy you I will refer them to you to provide contact details with your employees, or ex employees as the case may be.   
If anyone has any objections to what is contained in this correspondence, as to its accuracy or relevance please say so within the next 48 hours. This correspondence will be supplied to Grampian Police as part of my statement.
Bil Campbell

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