CHAPTER 32 - THE AFTERMATH
A case can certainly be made that the long drawn out saga with campaigning focused on Andrew Lazenby was unfair to him and his family. He made this point in his Witness Statement. On the other hand, it is also equally valid to say that his underhand actions had a devastating impact on many people apart from my family including for example Peter Miles (made redundant by Geoff Howe & Associates), Mike McMahon (whose company Concept Systems went into liquidation), and Mike Fairhurst (made redundant by Senior King).
John Armstrong-Holmes contacted my son in 2001. He said that he had just found a set of original correspondence between himself and Andrew Lazenby, which conclusively proved that he (Armstrong-Holmes) had been ripped off by Lazenby. He intended to go after Shell and might need John as a witness if the matter had to go to Court.
Shortly thereafter John heard from former Shell retailer Sheila Gee to say that she wanted him to appear as a witness at a tribunal hearing involving Shell and her Shell retailer group. John said that he could not get involved unless subpoenaed. Sheila mentioned that she had received telephone calls from certain people asking questions about her case only to subsequently discover that they had given her false information about their identities – sounds familiar doesn’t it? She also informed him that Shell had just lost an eight-year legal battle with a fellow former site operator, Stephen Fallon, who had successfully sued Shell for misrepresentation. The Judge had apparently strongly criticised Shell for deliberately deceiving Mr Fallon.
Not long after the unexpected calls from Armstrong-Holmes and Sheila Gee, John received a telephone call apparently from the same person who had made the anonymous original threats some years previously. He informed John that it would be very dangerous for him and his family to become involved in further litigation against Shell. From what was said, it was plain that the caller knew about the contact made by at least one of these parties.
During this same period, John was contacted by Steven Donovan who with a co-founder, “PK”, had built a number of successful business ventures. They had some ideas for launching promotional games on the Internet which is a completely different environment for conducting a promotional game. For one thing, there are no physical game pieces involved. One project was in respect of a paperless “Make Money” game involving multiple currencies. John was invited to become involved on a speculative basis because of his vast experience and expertise in promotional games.
John took the view that because the proposed Make Money game was so different in character and execution to the Shell version that there would be no legal problem with Shell. Nonetheless he decided as a matter of courtesy to inform Shell of his involvement in the project and wrote to Malcolm Brinded (then still Country Chairman of Shell UK). A reply came from Richard Wiseman who claimed that the proposed game would be a breach of the “Make Money” settlement terms whereby Shell had purchased the rights of Don Marketing to the Shell Make Money concept.
Given the belligerent response it was deemed prudent for Steven and PK to continue the correspondence with Shell rather than John. Unfortunately when this happened, Richard Wiseman could not resist the temptation of trying to poison the relationship between their company and John. Despite the terms of the peace settlement he made comments about John in writing which could only be interpreted as being derogatory. He also offered to provide their company with a transcript of the Judges Comments (the comments made by Mr Justice Laddie at the conclusion of the trial when the case was settled) and in fact obtained a copy for this purpose. It was only at the last minute that a lawyer colleague warned Wiseman that the supply of the transcript could be construed as a breach of the settlement. The warning came too late because Wiseman’s derogatory comments to a third party company already constituted a breach.
When he found out what had transpired John wrote to Wiseman informing him that Shell had repudiated the settlement agreement. In other words, the agreement had been rendered null and void as a result of Richard Wiseman’s actions.
Wiseman initially claimed that his comments and the transcript of Judges Comments were perfectly legitimate because the relevant matters were in fact already in the public domain. He then refused to discuss the public domain aspect any further when he realised that such an argument could be counter-productive i.e. if his defence line was correct, we could legitimately publish a mountain of information already in the public domain which would be highly damaging to Shell.
Bearing in mind that Wiseman had initially been so keen to send a copy of the Judges Comments, but instantly changed his mind when warned about the possible repercussions, it was clear that they contained some very damaging comments about my son. John therefore obtained a copy.
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