Documents obtained by Corporate Watch show that Vince Cable has been acting as “Contact Minister for Shell”.

In a letter to Vince Cable, dated 19 March 2012, Malcolm Brinded, (who, at the time of writing, was Chief Executive of Shell Upstream International) thanks Vince Cable for attending a Shell strategy presentation; adding that he hopes it “was useful to you in your role as ‘contact Minister for Shell’ in HM Government – an excellent initiative which we wholeheartedly support.”

The letter, released under the Freedom of Information Act, goes on to outline how Shell would like the government to act regarding the European Fuel Quality Directive [1], a policy initiative aimed at reducing emissions from transport fuels.

The letter ends by thanking Cable for the time he and his colleagues had given them, and stating that they “look forward to future such opportunities”.

The revelation compounds recent concerns over Shell’s access to UK government officials. In August the Guardian described a Shell schmoozathon [2], revealing how the energy giant hosted a two day training course attended by officials across ten different government departments.

Cable worked as Shell’s Chief Economist from 1995 to 1997, a period in which the company allegedly paid and supported the Nigerian military to commit international crimes. In 1995 the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other leaders of the southern Nigerian Ogoni ethnic group were executed by the Sani Abacha military government. In 2011, relatives of the assassinated Ogoni 9, as they became known, began legal proceedings against Shell resulting in an out-of-court settlement [3] in which Shell paid the victims’ families $15.5m, rather then face a New York Federal court.

Vince Cable has remained quiet about his time at Shell and denies any knowledge of the company’s alleged links to the assassinations. Last month, the oil watchdog Platform revealed [4] how Shell’s funding of armed militant groups in Nigeria has continued in recent years. In 2009, during the height of insurgency in the region, Shell paid $65m to government forces and a further $75m in “other” unexplained security costs.

Emma Hughes from Platform said:
“These revelations once again show the shocking amount of access that Shell has to government ministers. Shell are not only one of the world’s most environmentally damaging companies but, as Platform’s research shows, their continual payments to armed militant groups in the Niger Delta has had a serious negative impact on human rights.”

Contact:
Corporate Watch, 02074260005, [email protected]

Emma Hughes, Platform, 02074033738 / 07801140192 [email protected]

Notes to Editors:
[1] Brinded tells Cable of the need for “a shift in the current UK position of neutrality/abstention to a clear vote against (the directive)”, adding “we judge it particularly important that a change in position is reached and communicated to other member states well ahead of time to maximize the chances of encouraging others in the same direction.”

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/17/government-officials-schmooze-athon-shell

[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/08/nigeria-usa

[4] https://platformlondon.org/2012/08/26/oil-companies-gave-cash-and-contracts-to-militants-and-warlords-in-nigeria