Shareholders attack BP on pay and safety

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The Independent Online

Shareholders at BP's annual general meeting yesterday took the company to task over its environmental and safety record and the pay packages enjoyed by top management.

Lord Browne of Madingley, BP's chief executive, admitted to the gathering that 2005 had been a year of "mixed fortunes" despite record financial performance.

"In some respects it was a very difficult year," he said, pointing in particular to an explosion at the energy giant's refinery in Texas, which killed 15 people.

Mike Porter, one shareholder, said that the Texas accident and an oil spill in Alaska "point to serious management failures and an inability to assess risk". He also described Lord Browne's £10m remuneration last year as "obscene".

Zac Brown, a proxy shareholder who had flown in from the US for the meeting, said that while BP had made progress on its approach to the environment, "we continue to have concerns about the safety record in the US".

Peter Sutherland, BP's chairman responded: "We do not accept the broad-brush and excessive criticisms that have been reported in some media ... We don't accept that this company has an endemic problem."