Church chief attacks corporate pay

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The Independent Online

Andreas Whittam Smith, the man responsible for the Church of England's £3.5bn investment portfolio, is planning to attend the annual general meetings of companies to speak out against highly-paid directors being "rewarded for failure".

Andreas Whittam Smith, the man responsible for the Church of England's £3.5bn investment portfolio, is planning to attend the annual general meetings of companies to speak out against highly-paid directors being "rewarded for failure".

Mr Whittam Smith, founder of The Independent, says this year's round of huge pay awards was evidence of "naked, untrammelled greed" in corporate Britain. "Directors have become blind to the outside world – they are isolated in their chauffeur-driven cars and their padded offices give them an unrealistic take on the world," he said yesterday.

As First Church Estates Commissioner, Mr Whittam Smith is currently on the look out for an AGM at which a large pay award is being contested. "I am waiting for a company with an issue that really outrages me and then I will go and make a fuss. It is up to shareholders to make their views known," he said.

Mr Whittam Smith said the pay awards to directors at Standard Life, the mutual insurance company, had been the most galling he had seen. Directors there earned almost £2m in bonuses while policyholders had their bonuses cut.

He blames the weakness of non-executive directors for failing to stand up to boards, saying they are "feeble".

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