Better to receive than to give as executives earn 20% more: Botnar's pay increased 2,830% against average worker's 3%

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BRITAIN'S most senior executives received average pay increases of nearly 20 per cent last year while most workers' wages rose by less than 3 per cent, according to a study published today.

The union-funded Labour Research Department reports that Octav Botnar, the fugitive director of Nissan UK, topped the list with a 2,830 per cent rise to pounds 3.8m from Automotive Financial, one of his car dealer companies.

The next biggest increase went to Derek Hunt of MFI, the furniture group, whose 604 per cent rise took his pay to pounds 1.6m. His basic pay rose 16.8 per cent to pounds 271,000, but the total included a management bonus of pounds 1.3m and a performance-related bonus of pounds 63,000.

Mark Knopfler, the Dire Straits guitarist, had the third-largest rise of 243 per cent, taking him to pounds 9.1m a year.

The highest-paid director once more in the annual survey published in Labour Research magazine was Peter Wood, of Direct Line, the insurance group owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, whose 200 per cent increase took him to more than pounds 18m a year. Peter Baring, of Barings Bank, had the fifth-largest rise of 182 per cent.

Researchers traced 54 directors paid more than pounds 1m - 12 more than last year's study. There were 185 directors earning pounds 500,000- pounds 1m compared with 115 previously.

Some directors saw pay fall. Labour Research expresses little sympathy with Edwin Healey at Stadium Developments, whose pay cut of 70 per cent still put him on pounds 507,243 a year - pounds 9,755 a week.

Of the top 10 earners, six had musical connections. Second-highest is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber on pounds 11.3m from his three companies Escaway, Really Useful and Sarastone. Third is Phil Collins, whose earnings fell by 16.4 per cent to pounds 10.6m. Cameron Mackintosh, the producer, was next on pounds 10.3m, followed by Mr Knopfler on pounds 9,145,764. It is thought Mr Knopfler might also have received the lion's share of the pounds 2.9m paid to directors at one of his companies, Straitjacket Songs.

The eighth-highest earner, according to Labour Research, was Eric Clapton, with an 88 per cent leap to pounds 7,286,074.

Of the 23 newcomers to the pounds 1m- a-year club, the City provided 15. They included three directors at Barings, David Band, of BZW, Paul Myners, of Gartmore Investment, and Charles Brady of Invesco MIM. The highest-paid directors of Morgan Grenfell and Morgan Stanley were among the 15, with John Tugwell, chairman and chief executive of the American arm of NatWest.