RSA Chairman Warns President Obama over Attacks on BP

June 11, 2010

The chairman of RSA Insurance Group Plc has written an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama describing his comments towards BP Plc and its chief executive as “prejudicial and personal.”

In the letter, published on the Sky News website, John Napier said some balance needed to be put back in to the situation and raised the question of double standards in the way it had been dealt with compared with the banking crisis.

“Your comments towards BP and its CEO as reported here are coming across as somewhat prejudicial and personal,” Napier wrote.”There is a sense here that these attacks are being made because BP is British.”

The Obama administration has markedly toughened its rhetoric toward the company in recent days, reflecting public anger over the oil giant’s handling of the spill.

Napier said there was no doubt BP was committed to doing everything it could to contain the leak and that CEO Tony Hayward was the best person to deliver that effort.

He also said Obama had not delivered such personalized attacks on those involved in the damage inflicted on western economies by “polluted securities from the irresponsible, unchecked greed and avarice of leading US international banks.”Perhaps a case of double standards?

“We can all agree that the first and absolute priority is to stem the leak. Perhaps the second one is to ensure the reputation of the presidency outside the US is seen as objective, balanced, able and capable of taking the heat when under pressure,” he added.

Speaking later in an interview with Sky News, Napier said the comments were his personal view, rather than that of international, nonlife insurer RSA. [IJ Ed. Note: RSA has confirmed the personal nature of the remarks in an e-mail].

“It is a moderate letter. It is a supportive letter to the president, but it is giving him pretty good feedback that I think the current style of this dispute has reached the end of the road,” he said. “There are deep-seated issues here to resolve and these are better done behind closed doors.”

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Andre Grenon)

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