'Emotional' Hester admits he nearly quit over bonus

City backlash grows against Government's 'populist pandering' to the banker bashers

Stephen Hester admitted yesterday that he considered quitting as chief executive of taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland when the row over his £963,000 bonus was at its most "depressing".

"I had to stare over the edge at my own motivation in the last 10 days," he said. "I'm not a robot and there have been some deeply depressing moments over the past three years. I came to the conclusion that it would be indulgent to resign and that I ought to draw on what strengths of reserves I have to make RBS a success."

He denied that he had been under any pressure or been contacted by the Chancellor, George Osborne, or Treasury officials to drop his bonus. Instead he said he had talked to friends who had been "incredibly supportive".

He said: "The difficult thing on these occasions is to detach oneself. All of us get into a bunker and feel a bit sorry for ourselves. But things up close look different if you give them time and space. The decision I reached was that I had invested three years in this and it was worth continuing, overcoming the emotions I had and focusing on the recovery of RBS and the 150,000 people who work for it."

Mr Hester's stance is bound to be looked at closely by Barclays' chief executive, Bob Diamond, who is thought to be carefully considering his bonus in the light of public and political sentiment against bankers. Barclays is due to post its results tomorrow after a tough period for its Barclays Capital investment banking arm.

The City veteran Lord Levene yesterday admitted that bankers had to be sensitive to the public mood, but said the shift had already begun. "People have realised that we can not bury our heads in the sand and pretend it is all going to go away."

Barclays Capital is expected to cut bonuses for staff by as much as 30 per cent, while last night it emerged that Deutsche Bank, a big City employer, was to cap bonuses at €200,000.

Lord Levene went on to scorn politicians for attacking Mr Hester, having been the ones who appointed him and approved his bonus scheme in the first place. In this, he was echoing the widely held view of a majority of City chiefs.

One top banker said: "It is the Government's job sometimes to be robust against populism. All we've seen so far has been blatant pandering to it and that's making a lot of people in the City very angry – myself included."

Asked if he would have taken the job with the befit of hindsight Mr Hester said: "Honestly I don't know. At the time there was a degree of complete selfishness. It was a huge professional test and I'm the kind of animal that likes that."

Suggested Topics
News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsAll just to promote a new casino
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

C#.NET Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF, WCF, ASP.NET, Prism...

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Day In a Page

Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband