'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
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
premier league
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
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

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam