British insurance boss raps Obama over BP

10th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The chairman of a British insurance group described Barack Obama's comments about BP and its chief executive as "prejudicial and personal" in an open letter to the US president on Thursday.

John Napier, of FTSE 100 insurance group RSA, formerly Royal and Sun Alliance, called for the fall-out from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to be handled in a "more statesman-like way".

He also suggested there had been "double standards" in the response to BP and its chief executive Tony Hayward's handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill compared with the reaction to US banks during the credit crunch.

"Please forgive this open letter but your comments towards BP and its CEO as reported here are coming across as somewhat prejudicial and personal," Napier said in his letter to Obama, released by his representatives.

"There is a sense here that these attacks are being made because BP is British."

He added: "We can all agree that the first and absolute priority is to stem the leak.

"Perhaps the second one is to ensure the reputation of the presidency outside the USA is seen as objective, balanced, able and capable of taking the heat when under pressure."

It was not immediately clear whether RSA is a shareholder in BP, whose dividends account for around one in every seven pounds distributed to shareholders in Britain every year.

RSA said Napier -- who also chairs a media and market research group, Aegis -- was speaking in a personal capacity.

© 2010 AFP

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