Current Affairs

BP boss could face perjury charges

Tony Grew May 2, 2007
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Lord Browne, who resigned as chief executive of BP yesterday after it was revealed he lied to the High Court, could face a criminal trail.

The Mail On Sunday newspaper is reported to be preparing papers to be handed to the Attorney General, who decides on prosecutions for perjury.

Lord Browne three times stated in documents to the High Court that he met his partner of four years, Jeff Chevalier, while exercising in Battersea Park.

He later acknowledged that was untrue and apologised for lying.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the peer met Mr Chevalier, now 27, through an escort agency.

The High Court judge who heard Lord Browne’s request for a gagging order preventing Mr Chevalier’s kiss-and-tell story from being published decided not to refer his deception to the Attorney General.

“I cannot think that anything would be achieved by doing so. In any event, it is probably sufficient penalty that his behaviour has had to be mentioned in this judgement,” Mr Justice Eady said.

It is not clear if the Attorney General will pursue Lord Browne on perjury charges.

Jeffrey Archer and Johnathan Aitken were prosecuted for lying in court but their deceptions were at the heart of libel cases.

Lord Browne’s lie was not vital to the proceedings, and he acknowledged he had a relationship with Mr Chevalier.

The 59-year-old was due to retire as chief executive of BP in July. He had been with the company since 1966.

It is estimated that he will lose around £15m in salary and bonuses as a result of his resignation.

He could also lose his non-executive roles on the boards of investment bank Goldman Sachs and private equity firm Apax.

In a statement Lord Browne, who was made a life peer by Tony Blair in 2001, said he regretted lying to the court and was embarrassed about how he actually met Mr Chevalier.

“For the past 41 years of my career at BP I have kept my private life separate from my business life,” he said.

“I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private.

“It is a matter of personal disappointment that a newspaper group has now decided that allegations about my personal life should be made public.”

Lord Browne, 59, met Mr Chevalier in 2002, and over the next four years provided him with a life of luxury, including paying for his accommodation, clothing and extensive international travel.

The peer also paid substantial sums of money to Mr Chevalier, and paid for a university course so that he could stay in the UK.

The High Court had previously ruled in a private sitting that as Lord Browne had taken his partner to various social events, including those connected with his duties at BP, the relationship was widely known about.

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