CHAPTER 7 – THE FIRST BETRAYAL
In June 1993, my son had the surprise of his life when he turned over a page in a Daily Mail newspaper and saw a colourful advert for a Nintendo promotion on Shell forecourts, which bore a striking similarity to the promotion that we had proposed. Since we knew that a national promotion could not be produced overnight, it was clear that the project must have commenced before or soon after Andrews fax on 22nd February 1993 despite his promise to call us if there was “any further progress”.
As something was obviously amiss, I suggested to John that he should tape the telephone conversation that he intended to have with Andrew. As could be expected, Andrew strongly denied any wrongdoing. John then telephoned Nintendo. They made a similar denial.
During a further conversation that same day Andrew professed to be ignorant of the meaning of confidentiality. He said to John (on tape): "Under terms of confidentiality? I don’t even know anything about this stuff, you’re the expert.” To our consternation, Andrew went on to assert that the Make Money game was Shell’s property. John reminded him of our joint rights agreement with Shell. He replied, “I don’t care about that”. He evidently thought that because of its financial muscle, a small company like ours would not be mad enough to go up against Shell in the Courts. He would have been right in the vast majority of cases.
John also drew his attention to a serious security flaw in the Nintendo game that potentially enabled staff at Shell stations to identify prizes that were supposed to have been concealed under a latex (scratch-off) patch. He accepted that we had identified a problem. We subsequently discovered from Shell “discovery” documents, that Shell was aware even before the launch date that they had a serious problem with the print security. They still ran the scheme for its full term - so much for Shell’s “Profits & principles” pr line – profits once again came first…
Having got a negative response from Andrew and his line manager, David Watson, who threatened in a letter to terminate our relationship with Shell if we pursued the matter, we wrote to David Varney, the then Managing Director of Shell UK Limited (now Chairman of BT Wireless in the UK). Mr Varney, a short bearded man known as “Napoleon” at Shell, said in a response letter that he had personally carried out an investigation and went on to assure us that Mr Lazenby had NO involvement in the Nintendo promotion.
We later discovered that Mr Varney had not carried out a personal investigation – he had lied. Furthermore, contrary to his assurance that Andrew had NO involvement in the Nintendo promotion, in fact Andrew had played the key role. Even worse, Andrew was personally involved in drafting Mr Varney’s letter. There was written and taped proof confirming this. But before we got very much further than issuing a Writ, we were confronted with an even more pressing and astonishing turn of events.
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