04 May 2007

BP: The Wrong Scandal

The chief executive of BP (the company that used to be known as "British Petroleum" -- although nowadays they insist that BP is the whole name, not a set of initials for anything) resigned this week. On Mayday, in fact.

The chief executive, John Browne, a/k/a Lord Browne, a/k/a Baron Browne of Madingley, resigned after he lost a court fight to keep certain secrets with regard to his relationship with a young man, named Jeff Chevalier. The two broke up last year, and it seemed to dawn upon Mr. Chevalier (what a great name!) that if you break up with your sugar Daddy, you can't keep up the lifestyle that he had been buying for you.

So Jeff decided to tattle about their relationship for pay, and Lord Browne sought to enjoin Fleet Street's finest from reporting on their dalliance. In the course of this litigation, the Lord seems now to have perjured himself, on such issues as how the two met. They met on a website designed for such meetings, but they had apparently invented the cover story (when they were quite opening moving about in society circles as a couple) that they met while jogging in Battersea Park. The Lord seems to have tried to sell that cover story to the courts, too, but the scorned Chevalier wouldn't let him get away with it.

Do I care? Of course not. Gossip is a rather low form of amusement. But what saddens me here is that Lord Browne had a lot of GOOD reasons over the last couple of years why he should have resigned, yet no one on the board of directors seems to have been at all interested in rebuking him (indeed, they only recently -- April 12 -- sweetened his pension deal) until gay-sex scandal entered the picture.

Consider the good reasons for getting rid of Lord Browne. Related to his actual ... well, you know ... business.

BP was indicted by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board for its role in the Texas City Refinery disaster in 2005. Fifteen people dies in large part because BP scrimped on safety measures.

Other US agencies are investigating BP on charges of market manipulation.

There's a continuing investigation of the pollution related to its pipeline at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska -- oil on the tundra after years of poor maintenance.

Well ... if it took a sex scandal to get him out of the corner office, thank goodness for the salacious instincts of the London press.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.