Sir Michael Bishop, the openly gay former head of airline BMI, has said that gay people still face discrimination in the corporate world.

Speaking to the BBC’s Leading Questions, Sir Michael said the only reason he managed to succeed as an openly gay man was the fact he was an owner-manager.

He also agreed with the suggestion that careers of openly gay people could still be ruined and that prejudice was still present.

On coming out, he told BBC business editor Robert Peston: “It’s obviously an issue for some people, but I think it’s better to square up to these things than not to.

“I just think that it has been a difficult issue for people in public life, or in business and industry, and thankfully, due to a lot of things that have happened in the last ten years, it’s considerably easier for younger people who want to get on.”

Sir Michael ran BMI from 1972 before selling his 50 per cent stake to German carrier Lufthansa for £223 million in July. He turned it into the UK’s second-biggest airline.