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Simon English: Has John Varley had anattack of conscience?

Outlook If the bloke setting your pay is a banker, you must surely fancy your chances of getting a decent bonus and a tasty rise in salary. After all, he probably can't believe you rub by on so little in the first place, and could hardly offer moral grounds as a reason for restraint.

So when John Varley, former chief executive of bonus-crazy Barclays Bank, rocked up as head of the remuneration committee at AstraZeneca, lips must have been licked. Directors grinned. We're well in here.

But the gossips – in this case a fund manager close to the company – reports that the highly regarded chief financial officer, Simon Lowth, is struggling to get the pay deal he wants. Mr Varley hasn't yet given it the nod. The company is firing people and looking at cost cuts, but that can't be the reason for the delay.

Not unless a banker has had a sudden attack of conscience...