BP's Browne faces perjury speculation

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Lord Browne, the former chief executive of oil giant BP, may face charges of perjury, according to media reports.

The 58-year-old tendered his resignation with immediate effect after failing to prevent details over his private life entering the public domain.

He acknowledged yesterday he had a four-year relationship with Jeff Chevalier following a failed attempt to prevent the Mail on Sunday newspaper revealing details of the affair.

Now reports are claiming the attorney general may be asked to prosecute Lord Browne after the oil man admitted lying in court.

Lord Browne, who had already announced he would leave BP in July, stands to lose a retirement package worth at least £3.5 million, although it could have risen to £12 million.

"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," the BP chief said in a statement released through the oil group yesterday.

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

Platts energy analyst John Roberts told BBC Radio Five Live earlier today that Lord Browne was more likely to be remembered for his "glittering" career at BP.

He suggested that Lord Browne's own perceptions of homophobia and homosexuality in the business world could have contributed to what he called a "classic tragedy".

"This is a guy who lies about his personal life. The problem is he came from a generation – he's nearly 60 – in which when he grew up being a homosexual would have been extraordinarily difficult," he explained.

"There's probably still quite a few people who couldn't feel they could come out, it's just not in their mental wiring. They didn't grow up in an era in which it was possible to imagine coming out. If he had he'd have been spared all of this," he added.

Dr Tony Hayward has been appointed as Lord Browne's successor.

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