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Robin Cook slams Bonfield BT payoff

Bonfield of the Vanities

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Robin Cook, Leader of the House of Commons and President of the Privy Council, has lambasted the CEO of BT, Sir Peter Bonfield, over his financial settlement on leaving the monster telco.

Sir Peter - who presided over a catastrophic fall in BT's share price as the company failed to keep pace with the telecoms market - announced that he was to leave his post a year early on Wednesday. He stands to make nearly £3 million from the company: £1.4 million in cash, £350,000 in pension payments and £1.3 million in share options.

Answering a question in the House of Commons yesterday, Robin Cook said that the pay-out was not acceptable when thousands of people were losing their jobs thanks to the impending recession: "At a time when workers are losing their jobs and shareholders are losing their money, we would expect executives to share some of the pain," he said.

The criticism comes as the government is considering new anti-fat cat legislation that will allow shareholders to take a vote on executives' renumeration. Currently, management pay-outs and increases are tied in with other measures that make the likelihood of a negative vote very unlikely.

Mr Cook said a bill allowing shareholders to vote directly on executives' pay would be introduced to Parliament soon.

Bonfield's pay-out has infuriated many who blame him for the BT share collapse which has seen the removal of the company financial director and chairman. Even though Bonfield plans to leave in January, he will still be paid until the end of his contract in December 2002. ®

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