The pay bonanza in Britain's boardrooms reached new heights over the past year, with 28 senior executives doubling their earnings and one pocketing an 18-fold increase.
Some 416 directors broke the £500,000 a year barrier and a further 152 received £1m or more, according to a report published yesterday by the union-funded Labour Research Department (LRD).
At the top of the organisation's "league of fat cats" was Christopher Mills, chief executive of the North Atlantic Smaller Companies investment trust, who was paid a total of £4.97m - including £3.5m for the cost of cancelled share options.
Stanley Fink, chief executive of the financial services group Man, took second place with £3.81m, followed by Michael Spencer, his equivalent at the broker ICAP, on £3.68m.
The list of executives with the highest pay increases is led by Stuart Wallis, former chairman of the printing group Communisis, who received a 1,818 per cent rise last year before retiring in April.
Mr Wallis and the chief executive, David Jones, shared a £3,635,000 bonus under an incentive plan which took his final year's earnings from £100,000 to £1.9m. The bonus put Mr Jones in second place in the pay rise league. His total rise amounted to 757 per cent taking pay, benefits and the bonus into account.
The LRD survey found that directors of companies quoted on the stock exchange and earning more than £500,000 a year received an average 12.4 per cent pay rise - about three times the increase among private sector workers generally.
Surveys conducted by the LRD in each of the last nine years have shown double percentage figures for increases. The rise in the 2002 survey was 16.1 per cent, in 2001 18.1 per cent, 2000 21.2 per cent, 1999 10.7 per cent, 1998 15.7 per cent, 1997 16 per cent, 1996 16 per cent, and 1995 10 per cent.
Last year the Trade & Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, introduced regulations giving shareholders a vote on directors' pay packages at annual general meetings. Stakeholders in GlaxoSmithKline took advantage of the new rules and voted against million pound pay deals for executives in the biggest revolt of its kind in British corporate history. More than half of the votes were cast against the group's remuneration report.