Politicians outraged as Sir Fred starts new job

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Politicians today expressed bemusement and "disgust" after it emerged that former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin started a new job at an architectural firm.

Sir Fred - dubbed "Fred the Shred" - has been appointed as a senior adviser with architectural practice RMJM, where he began work just before Christmas.

The firm has its headquarters in Edinburgh and offices in 17 countries around the world.

It was involved in designing the controversial Scottish Parliament building, though the current management had no involvement in that project.

Sir Fred will be based in Edinburgh but will spend the vast majority of his time overseas.

He will not be on the RMJM board but will join four or five other members of the senior advisory panel of the business.

Critics were left bemused by the news.

Michael Connarty, Labour MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, said: "This is a very odd appointment and will confuse people.

"People wonder what he knew about banking and will now wonder what he knows about building.

"There is a deep irony that one the architects of RBS' downfall is now working for the architects involved in the Holyrood building fiasco."

Margo MacDonald, independent MSP for the Lothians, said: "My reaction is one of faint disgust. One of the things that people objected to, and I think with good reason, was the size of Mr Goodwin's pension pot.

"It now transpires that he is not really pensioned off at all, he is quite capable of earning money with another company.

"It somehow doesn't have a good ring to it that he should be able to make that amount of money out of his own mistakes and step into what people would imagine to be a very comfortable little number.

"If he were working for nothing or pro bono I would have no complaint but I don't think that's the case."

The company would not comment on Sir Fred's pay package, though said it was in line with that of the existing senior advisers to the business.

A source close to RMJM said: "He is going to be working on international projects.

"He will be helping to identify and develop operations and work with the teams of architects but in a business context.

"He started just before Christmas and is adding value to the business."

He said Sir Fred has brought an "invaluable skill set" to RMJM.

Sir Fred took early retirement after RBS almost collapsed as the credit crunch gripped world markets.

Under his leadership RBS was heavily exposed to toxic assets and bad debts, and disastrously bought Dutch bank ABN Amro at the top of the market in 2007 before the credit crunch struck.

His pension deal sparked public outrage, leaving him with a £703,000-a-year package - including a £2.7 million lump sum - despite leading the bank to the brink of disaster.

The Paisley-born former banker saw his house attacked, his knighthood questioned and an artist's effigy of his head on a spike displayed in London as he became a magnet for public fury over fat cat pay amid a financial crisis that helped ferment recession.

But he bowed to public pressure and offered to hand back more than £210,000 a year of his controversial pension payout.

RMJM has never banked with RBS and was not involved in the design or construction of the RBS headquarters at Gogarburn, the company insider said.

A spokesman for Sir Fred Goodwin said he did not want to comment on his new appointment.

RMJM will design the Athletes' Village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which will involve creating 700 homes and related accommodation for up to 8,000 athletes and officials.

In recent years it also designed the Falkirk Wheel and visitor centre.

The company has offices around the globe, from Shanghai and New York to Dubai.