The statement issued by BP after the resignation of Lord Browne as chief executive

Following a decision taken today by Lord Browne to step down as the company’s chief executive officer, the Board of BP plc has appointed his designated successor, Dr Tony Hayward, as new CEO with immediate effect.

Lord Browne tendered his resignation after the lifting by the UK courts of a legal injunction preventing a newspaper group from publishing details of his private life.

Lord Browne said: ”In my 41 years with BP I have kept my private life separate from my business life. I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private. It is a matter of deep disappointment that a newspaper group has now decided that allegations about my personal life should be made public.

”Concerning the court documents disclosed today, I wish to acknowledge that I did have a four-year relationship with Jeff Chevalier who has now chosen to tell his story to Associated Newspapers, publishers of The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard.

”These allegations are full of misleading and erroneous claims. In particular, I deny categorically any allegations of improper conduct relating to BP.”

BP chairman Peter Sutherland said that Lord Browne had informed the company of allegations relating to the limited use by Jeff Chevalier of BP computer and staff resources.

Mr Sutherland said: ”At John’s explicit request, the Board instigated a review of the evidence. That review concluded that the allegations of misuse of company assets and resources were unfounded or insubstantive.

”John has made it clear to the BP Board that he has decided to step down with immediate effect because he does not want this public focus on his private life to detract from the paramount task of running the BP group.

”The Board of BP has accepted John’s resignation with the deepest regret. For a chief executive who has made such an enormous contribution to this great company, it is a tragedy that he should be compelled by his sense of honour to resign in these painful circumstances.”

*The company said that as a result of Lord Browne’s decision to resign he would lose his agreed entitlement to a year’s notice including a bonus of up to 1.3 times his annual salary, worth in total over £3.5 million. He would also forego inclusion in the long-term performance share plan for 2007-2009 with a maximum potential value of some £12 million.

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