David Usborne: US mocks man who got what he wanted – his life back

View from America

It is a safe bet Tony Hayward will not be returning any time soon to Louisiana. Nor will the locals be urging him to change his mind.

If his comment that he wanted his "life back", made in off-the-cuff remarks to a TV camera, haunted Hayward in the weeks following the BP spill, he must have known it would resurface after he left his post.

"Hayward gets life back; American workers still dead", read a headline on the Huffington Post. Also resurfacing was a little of the anti-Brit sentiment which uncharacteristically bubbled through in the US as the weeks went by, with as much as 200 million gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf.

"I'll refrain from calling Hayward a Toffee-Nosed, Yacht-Racing-Snob, as others have called him," industry veteran Robert Cavnar wrote for Huffington. "I'll just continue to hope that without him, BP will at some point have a chance to gain a soul and remember the now 26 Americans who have been killed in two BP accidents, five years apart."

There were no regretful goodbyes either from Joseph Cao, a US Congressman for Louisiana. "It's a good step on BP's part to show new leadership, or lack of leadership," he said.

Mr Hayward might have had the chance to improve his record on Capitol Hill, where he put in a hapless appearance last month, by showing up at tomorrow's Senate hearing into what role BP had in the release of the Libyan Lockerbie bomber by Scotland last year. The company has indicated, however, that he will not be available to testify. This provoked more anger on Capitol Hill, as the hearing was postponed, saying key witnesses had "stonewalled" the investigation. Senator Robert Menendez said the lack of co-operation was "utterly disappointing and I think pretty outrageous".

Bill Nungesser, the outspoken President of Plaquemines Parish in southern Louisiana, which bore the brunt of the sliming oil and the closure of fishing areas, had one suggestion for Hayward as he pockets the compensation money approved for him by the board. "I think he should donate it to the coastal relief fund and restoration," he said. He was following a theme first pursued by Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who had led the verbal assaults on Mr Hayward when he testified in Congress.

"At a time when BP should be devoting every possible resource to ending the spill, cleaning up the Gulf and fully compensating the residents who have had their livelihoods impacted, I find it extremely troubling that BP's board would consider providing such a large severance package to Mr. Hayward," Mr Markey wrote this week in a letter to Carl-Henric Svanberg, chairman of BP.