Police protection for family of BP boss Tony Hayward
Police have launched an operation to protect the family of Tony Hayward, BP’s British boss, after they received hate mail and threatening phone calls.
By Alex Spillius
The chief executive’s wife Maureen said the material had made her and her two children feel “rather uncomfortable” at their home in Kent.
The family has been targeted amid growing hostility to the firm in the United States for the spill that has so far leaked about one million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Speaking at her house in a village near Sevenoaks, Mrs Hayward said: “Members of my family have had nasty phone calls and we have also had mail from groups.
“Tony is obviously away and we are miles away from him so it’s upsetting.”
Kent Police sources yesterday confirmed there was an “ongoing police operation” involving Mr Hayward’s family home but did not disclose the nature and details. The family home is protected by a 12ft high perimeter hedge and has a private access road.
Mr Hayward, the face of BP during the 49-day crisis, was dubbed the “the most hated and clueless man in America” by one American newspaper after several insensitive or over-optimistic comments about the spill.
Amid complaints from affected business-owners that BP was not paying compensation quickly enough, President Barack Obama yesterday said he wanted to be sure that “the money flows quickly and on a timely basis”.
His administration had assigned people to “ride herd on BP to make sure that’s happening”.
Shrimp processors or other businesses dependent on the sea should not go out of business “while BP decides whether to pay up”.
BP said it had spent at least $1.25 billion on the oil spill that followed an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, with estimates that the final figure could be about $30 billion. It has strongly defended its performance in compensating local businesses.
The company said that a containment device lowered onto the ruptured well captured 11,000 barrels of oil with plans in place to increase that amount to 20,000 barrels. The government has estimated that up to 25,000 barrels a day are being lost.
Amid the outcry over the worst oil spill in US history, Mr Hayward and BP were offered a modicum of comfort by Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, who said that hysteria surrounding the leak was more damaging than the oil itself.
“The truth is we have had virtually no oil,” Mr Barbour told Fox television. “We’ve had a few tar balls but we have a few every year”, he added, because of natural seepage in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The biggest negative impact for us has been the news coverage,” he said, as reports gave the misleading impression that the entire coast from “Texas to Florida” was “knee deep in oil”.
The Republican governor came as close as any elected politician has to arguing that the biggest oil spill in US history was being exaggerated, at least in regard to his state, which has a smaller coastline than Louisiana, which is closest to the origin of the spill.
Mr Barbour is known as one of the most vocal pro-oil voices on the US political scene, receiving almost $700,000 from oil and gas industries in his past two campaigns. From 2000 to 2007, his lobbying firm was also paid $2 million for representing oil and gas interests.
07 Jun 2010