Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Former BP boss Lord Browne admits sexuality fears

Lord Browne in 2007
Lord Browne resigned as the chief executive of BP in 2007

The former chief executive of BP, Lord Browne, has admitted that knowledge of his sexuality could have prevented him landing the top job at the oil firm.

He told the BBC that his homosexuality might not have been popular in a "pretty macho industry".

Lord Browne did not reveal that he was gay until the end of his 40-year career at the oil giant.

He resigned from BP in 2007 following revelations about his private life from his former partner, Jeff Chevalier.

Lord Browne was found to have lied in legal statements about the nature of their relationship, while trying to block the publication of interviews with his former partner in a Sunday newspaper.

Lord Browne called the lie a "deep error of judgement", adding that he was still "terrified" about being discovered as gay even at the end of his career.

Changing attitudes

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He added that wider cultural attitudes at the beginning of his career had discouraged him from being open about his sexuality, but that attitudes in business had put "a finer point" on the issue.

Lord Browne said there was "a fear that was engendered in people's hearts about being gay".

"In corporate life it wasn't something you talked about, and in the oil industry is was not something you did," he said.

During his career as the boss of BP, Lord Browne was credited with transforming what was then a middling British oil producer into one of the biggest companies in the world.

He also led the controversial rebranding of BP as 'Beyond Petroleum', promoting the company's activities in green energy sectors, and was widely regarded as one of the UK's most able businessmen.



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SEE ALSO
Profile: Lord Browne
01 May 07 |  Business
BP chief executive Browne resigns
01 May 07 |  Business
'Perjury' threat for ex-BP boss
02 May 07 |  Business

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