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Daily Telegraph: Man at the top says he let his staff down

Daily Telegraph Lord Browne

(Surreal: Lord Browne on the webcam)

By Tom Stevenson
Last Updated: 12:29am GMT 17/01/2007

There was something odd about Lord Browne apologising for the deaths of 15 of his BP colleagues via a webcam. The technology worked all right and the words were well meant, but yesterday’s video link to a Houston press conference struck a surreal tone.

It was a virtual mea culpa of sorts but he had the look of a man getting the hang of a Skype video call to his relatives in Texas. It’s not the parting image that Britain’s most respected business leader would have chosen.
  
John Browne may have accepted that his role for the next six months is to act as a lightning rod, but he remains the consummate professional. Others might have overegged the moist-eyed gulp, but BP’s boss knows the right amount of contrition. He looked like he meant it but he wasn’t about to wring his hands.

If anything, he sounded too prepared. “If there’s one thing I want you to hear,” he said, “BP gets it and I get it too. This happened on my watch. We can do more and we will do more.”

There was a flash of Browne’s old self-confidence when he was asked about his legacy. “It’s nothing to do with me,” he parried, before launching into a list of the achievements in his years at the helm. “There’ll be a time and a place for legacies.”

Then the concerned tilt of the head, the saddened headmaster again: “I do feel I’ve let the staff down. That’s the moral responsibility of any leader.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/01/17/cnbp117.xml

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