Former BP CEO defends sailing during oil spill

LONDON Tue Nov 9, 2010 3:52am EST

BP's outgoing Chief Executive Tony Hayward laughs during a meeting with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin in Moscow, August 4, 2010. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

BP's outgoing Chief Executive Tony Hayward laughs during a meeting with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin in Moscow, August 4, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

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LONDON (Reuters) - The former chief executive of oil major BP defended his decision to go sailing while one of its wells was causing the worst-ever U.S. oil spill, saying he wanted to see his son after three months fighting the leak.

Tony Hayward, in his first interview since stepping down as BP boss, told British national broadcaster the BBC that he would probably do the same thing again, despite the fierce criticism it provoked from the White House and the Gulf of Mexico region, where the deepsea well was sited.

"I have to confess, at the time I was pretty angry actually. I hadn't seen my son for three months. I was on the boat for six hours ... I'm not certain I'd do anything different," he said.

Hayward had spent most of the previous three months in the United States trying to stem the spill, during which his series of gaffes fanned public anger toward what had been, before the disaster, Europe's biggest oil company by market value.

The excursion involved a boat race near the Isle of Wight, which Hayward attended after he was called back to the UK by BP's chairman, who felt the company needed to put a new face on the response effort.

The oil spill followed an explosion on a drilling rig in April that killed 11 workers.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Will Waterman)

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