by Rex Wockner
The chief executive officer of BP (formerly called British Petroleum) resigned May 1 after London newspapers reported that he had a four-year relationship with a 27-year-old man he met through an escort service.
The media also reported allegations that CEO John Browne, 59, had misused company funds, facilities and staff to support ex-boyfriend Jeff Chevalier’s cell-phone ring-tone business.
It also emerged that Browne had lied to a court about how he and Chevalier met, as Browne fought a months-long behind-the-scenes court battle to block publication of a story about the relationship by Associated Newspapers, publisher of The Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard.
Browne had claimed the two met by chance while he was exercising in a public park.
Browne also allegedly lied to the court, medical tests reportedly confirmed, in claiming that Chevalier was hooked on alcohol and drugs.
“For the past 41 years of my career at BP I have kept my private life separate from my business life,” Browne said in a statement announcing his departure. “I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private. It is a matter of personal disappointment that a newspaper group has now decided that allegations about my personal life should be made public.
“I wish to acknowledge that I did formerly have a four-year relationship with Jeff Chevalier. … I deny categorically any allegations of improper conduct relating to BP.
“My initial witness statements, however, contained an untruthful account about how I first met Jeff. This account, prompted by my embarrassment and shock at the revelations, is a matter of deep regret.
“These allegations will result inevitably in considerable media attention for both myself and BP. … I have therefore informed the board of BP that I intend to stand down as group chief executive with immediate effect.”