Bp BP Oil Spill Crisis Pr

The captain is going down with his boat


By Jonathan Hemus | Columnist

June 21, 2010 | 2 min read

Whilst it’s almost too easy to pile into BP as it lurches from gaffe to gaffe and fails to stem the Gulf oil leak, I cannot let Tony Hayward’s weekend sailing trip pass without comment. In terms of crisis response, my view is that this is probably the biggest indictment of his judgement so far (and that’s saying something).

Along with BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg who talked about “small people”, he has made several hugely unfortunate comments – “I want my life back” – and these have exacerbated his problems. But they are understandable – if not forgiveable – given the constant media spotlight that he has endured over the last couple of months and the thousands of words that have passed his lips. The difference with the sailing trip is that Mr Hayward made a conscious and planned decision to hit the high seas, a decision which calls his judgement into serious question.

Why given the unremittting criticism of his words and actions and the continuing disaster in the States did he believe that this was a sound course of action? Did he not care? Did he imagine that the media would ignore his activity? Either way it shows him as arrogant, uncaring or hugely naive – none of which are helpful perceptions in his current predicament.

To be clear, taking a day off to spend time with his family was not the issue: after weeks of intense crisis management it’s important that team members do find time to relax. But not in public. And not engaging in a rich man’s pastime. And not on a shiny blue English sea when US waters are dirty brown.

It was only a couple of weeks ago when I believed that it was possible for Tony Hayward to survive and, over time, re-build his reputation. I’ve changed my mind. I think it’s gone too far and that the attributes of Lazarus will be required for him to return to favour now.

Jonathan Hemus


Bp BP Oil Spill Crisis Pr

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