Jarvis, the rail maintenance contractor at the centre of the Potters Bar crash inquiry, yesterday broke with best corporate governance practice by appointing its chief executive, Paris Moayedi, to the post of executive chairman.
Mr Moayedi replaces Duncan McGowan, who died recently. Lord McGowan was made chairman last summer after Colin Skellett was forced to stand down from the job because of a fraud investigation into the sale of Wessex Water, where he was chief executive. He was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing
Jarvis is replacing Mr Moayedi in the chief executive's job with Kevin Hyde, the company's chief operating officer. Both men will remain on their existing pay packages for the remainder of this financial year. Mr Moayedi earned £425,000 last year while Mr Hyde was paid £242,000.
Jarvis paid no executive bonuses last year in light of the continuing investigation into the accident at Potters Bar, in which eight people were killed after a train was derailed by a faulty set of points. Jarvis has claimed that sabotage may have been the cause of the crash but the Health and Safety Executive has said it is sceptical of this. The investigation by British Transport Police is still going on and could lead to corporate manslaughter charges against Jarvis.
Steven Norris, the former Conservative transport minister who is now senior non-executive director at Jarvis, said the appointments of Mr Moayedi and Mr Hyde were "part of the normal and planned management transition in the group", indicating that Mr Moayedi would have become chairman at some point even if Lord McGowan had not died.
Since his arrival in 1994, Mr Moayedi has been the architect of Jarvis's growth from a small property development business, with a market value of £4m, into one of the country's biggest rail and PFI contractors with 10,000 staff and a turnover of more than £1bn.
Mr Hyde, who has 30 years experience in the rail industry, was made chief operating officer in August, 2001, having previously run the group's infrastructure services division.