BP boss Hayward says he was 'demonised' over oil spill

Tony Hayward Mr Hayward is set to join the board of BP's Russian joint venture

The outgoing boss of BP believes he was "demonised and vilified" over the firm's Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis.

But chief executive Tony Hayward - who is to leave the top job in October - accepted that the firm could not move on with him at the helm.

His departure was confirmed as BP reported a record $17bn (£11bn) loss, having set aside $32bn to cover the costs of the spill.

BP's managing director Bob Dudley will replace him in the top job.

"This is a very sad day for me personally," Mr Hayward told reporters.

"Whether it is fair or unfair is not the point. I became the public face [of the disaster] and was demonised and vilified.

He added: "BP cannot move on in the US with me as its leader... Life isn't fair.

"Sometimes you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus."

Russia role

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg praised the contribution Mr Hayward had made to BP during 28 years of service - but said he was not the right man to lead the rebuilding of the firm.

The outgoing boss will be able to claim a pension worth about £600,000 a year when he reaches his 55th birthday. He is currently 53.

Because he has left by mutual consent, the terms of his contract will be honoured, meaning he will also receive a full year's salary plus retain the rights on BP shares which could be worth million of pounds.

Mr Hayward is also likely to retain a role within the company, with BP planning to nominate him as a non-executive director of its Russian joint venture, TNK-BP.

Misguided remarks

The latest comments are unlikely to win Mr Hayward much sympathy in many quarters in the US, where the media has portrayed him as the public face of the world's worst environmental disaster, including the deaths of 11 men in the rig explosion that preceded it.

Critics argued that, as the man in charge, it was Mr Hayward's job to take the heat.

He did not help his cause with some misguided remarks about wanting his life back and optimistic comments about the clean-up operation.

Other public relations own-goals included his refusal to answer questions put to him by a congressional sub-committee and his decision to participate in a JP Morgan yacht race around the Isle of Wight.

BP: Capping the crisis. Jon Sopel will have the latest political and market reaction in a special live programme on the BBC World Service and BBC World News from 1830 GMT.

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