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Steve Chiotakis: It’s only been a few days since the British oil giant BP announced its CEO, Tony Hayward, would step down. Now he’s given his first interview since the announcement. In the Wall Street Journal, Hayward says he thinks he was made scapegoat for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and for BP’s response to it. From London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is with us live to talk about it. Hi Stephen.
Stephen Beard: Hi Steve.
Chiotakis: What else is Hayward saying in this article?
Beard: He claims he handled the crisis rather well, although he does regret some of the comments he made at the time. He also says he actually wanted to stay on as CEO, but felt he had to agree to quit for the sake of the company. “Because I love the company,” he says, “I must leave it.” He also reveals that BP’s polling shows that the company’s poll rating has begun to recover, and that it is still rated more highly than Goldman Sachs. I’m not sure how reassuring that is for BP.
Chiotakis: It sounds like he has a lot to say. I want to talk about BP’s role in the release of the convicted terrorist in the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing. Now Hayward refuses to testify to U.S. lawmakers and British and Scottish officials now are not cooperating either. What’s the next step there?
Beard: Well the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, says he wants to bring his inquiry to British soil. As you say, his committee wants to find out whether there was a link between BP winning a $900 million oil and gas deal with Libya and the early release of the Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, the bombing of that plane over Scotland in 1988 in which 270 people died. Well the head of the Scottish government, Alex Salmond, says his ministers won’t take part in a formal Senate inquiry wherever it’s helped:
Alex Salmond: My ministers, my officials are responsible to the parliament and people of Scotland. They are not — with enormous respect to Senator Menendez — responsible to the American Senate.
All of this is more unwelcome publicity for BP, which under that $900 million deal, begins drilling in Libyan waters shortly.
Chiotakis: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard, reporting from London. Stephen, thanks.
Beard: OK, Steve.
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