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`The system is a complete shambles'

The former Prudential chief said yesterday that his future career now lay outside the insurance industry, writes John Murray.

Speaking for the first time since his abrupt departure from the Pru - on the day he was cleared by the Stock Exchange - Mick Newmarch said: "I have in my mind's eye a rough idea of the sort of thing I want to do next. It certainly will not be in the insurance industry. I would like to get into a business that is perhaps a bit sleepy and needs galvanising - something with a challenge."

He said he was pleased that his ordeal at the hands of the Stock Exchange was over, and launched another characteristic broadside against the regulators, describing the system as "a complete shambles".

He insisted that he had not resigned because of the investigation into his share dealings.

"The outcome of the Stock Exchange's deliberations does not make me regret my decision to resign. In any case, I didn't resign over this, I resigned over a much more elaborate set of provocations.

"I found the attitude of the regulatory authorities increasingly unacceptable as it was damaging to me personally and to the company I was trying to do a job for."

Mr Newmarch also maintained that it was his own decision to go. "Although I was put under no pressure from my colleagues at the Pru to resign, I think they understood my reasons so knew there was little point in trying to dissuade me.

"I still believe that the regulatory system as it is currently structured is a complete shambles.

"All I ever asked for was an independent review of the structure. I strongly suspect that any proper review would come to the conclusion that the present system should be replaced with a single statutory regulator for retail financial services.

"The problem at the moment is that the regulators have contempt for the people they are regulating.

"The current system is incompetent, fails to protect the interests of consumers or the industry and is arbitrary. I was also not alone in voicing these concerns. You might accuse me of political naivety for not trimming, but I was not prepared to do that as I was responsible for defending the interests of the company and its 7 million policyholders.

"I am not bitter about the whole thing and I'm not going to get paranoid - although some people have suggested that the role of the Treasury in all of this has been a curious coincidence.

"It has been said to me that it may have been in their interests to discredit me."