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British Gas perks sustain ex-chiefs

A fresh row broke out last night over the perks and privileges granted to senior mangement by British Gas, already facing shareholder rebellion later this month over boardroom pay.

It emerged last night that two former executives have been granted secretaries, chauffeurs and office space with an estimated value of more than £100,000 a year.

Sir Denis Rooke, who resigned as chairman of British Gas six years ago, still enjoys the use of a fully furnished office in a British Gas building near London's Marble Arch. He has a chauffeur, a car and a secretary all paid for by the company. Attempts to reach him yesterday failed. "We do not expect to be in contact with him for many, many weeks," said his secretary.

Sir Robert Evans, chief executive from 1989 to 1992 and chairman until 1993, has the same privileges.

Both men are retired from British Gas and are not paid a salary. British Gas said the facilities enable the men to continue with duties of benefit to the company and the public.

In Sir Denis's case these duties are to the Fellowship of Engineering, the Royal Society and the 1851 Commission. In Sir Robert's case they are to the Indo-British Initiative.

Martin O'Neill, shadow energy spokesman, said: "It appears typical of the casual approach British Gas has to publication of directors and former directors' privileges.

"All employees past and present should look ruefully at the way in which a handful of well-rewarded staff continue to enjoy privileges denied to the rest."