Tony Hayward's latest PR gaffe is pilloried in US

The full-page advertisements were still running in America's newspapers touting the steps BP is taking to counter the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and help those affected, but no amount of money spent on public relations has been able to change the only page that really matters for the energy giant: the front one.

And yesterday, just when you thought that BP had exhausted every PR gaffe possibility, America's headline writers had another field day at the expense of the hapless chief executive Tony Hayward, after it emerged that he had spent part of the weekend watching his yacht racing in Cowes. "Capt Clueless", blasted the New York Post.

The "BP Bozo", another Post coinage, was there for Saturday's JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race after directors sent him back to London and away from running the spill operations. The decision to sideline Mr Hayward came after testimony on Capitol Hill that was widely deemed disastrous and remarks that downplayed the disaster and addressed the extent to which it had mucked up his own personal life.

But a place on the sidelines has not insulated the beleaguered boss from America's anger. Withering would best describe reaction in the US to his yachting trip. The White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said yesterday on ABC TV: "I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting."

Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, who rarely shies from speaking his mind, also attacked Mr Hayward. "That's the height of arrogance," he said. "I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil. He ought to be down here seeing what is really going on, not in a cocoon somewhere."

Score another round, perhaps, to the White House in its efforts to depict the oil company as the insensitive culprit in the ongoing crisis. Yet, the Saturday schedule of Mr Obama and Vice President Joe Biden did not go entirely unnoticed at the weekend – the two men spent a rare few hours golfing together.



Video: Crisis-hit BP chief goes sailing

Meanwhile, there was more bad news for BP, when an internal document released yesterday showed that the oil spill could be nearly double original estimates of 100,000 barrels a day. The undated document released by Congressman Ed Markey is BP's worst case scenario estimate.

As residents of the Gulf struggle to protect their beaches and livelihoods, the political struggle remains just as intense. Aides to Mr Obama last night again seized on remarks made during the Capitol Hill hearings by a Republican Congressman from Texas, Joe Barton, characterising the deal for BP to put $20bn (£13.4bn) in a fund to pay compensation claims as a White House "shakedown" of BP.

Speaking on ABC, Mr Emanuel pointed to the Barton comment, which the member had hastily to recant under pressure from his own party's leadership, as a reason why it would be "dangerous" for American voters to support Republicans in the mid-term elections coming in November.

The man chosen to administer the new fund, Kenneth Feinberg, also insisted that he did not believe any "shakedown" had occurred. "These people in the Gulf are in desperate straits," he said, adding: "I don't think it helps to politicise this programme."

How BP intends to repair its PR operations is unclear. The day-to-day running of the spill response has now been handed to the managing director, Bob Dudley, who has also in past weeks been a participant in BP's efforts to downplay the extent of the spill and the likely damage on the environment.

The gaffes that Mr Hayward could call his own included not only his comment during a television interview that he would like his "life back" but his prediction a few days earlier that environmental impact of the gushing well was likely to be "very, very modest".

Then again, the man who engineered his move back to London last week, Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP's chairman, made his own contribution to the mess, suggesting last Wednesday that BP had not forgotten the "small people". And then came Mr Hayward's Cowes outing. "He wanted to get his life back," Ronnie Kennier of Empire, Louisiana, snipped yesterday. "I guess he got it."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape