BP boss wanted to keep gay life private

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Lord Browne, who resigned today as chief executive of BP after it was revealed he lied to the High Court about where he met his former boyfriend, has said he is disappointed that his private life has become public.

The 59-year-old peer had unsuccessfully sought a court injunction against Associated Newspapers to stop them revealing details of his four year relationship with Jeff Chevalier.

The multi-millionaire businessman told the court that he had met Mr Chevalier, 28, while exercising in Battersea Park, but later admitted that was a lie.

He resigned today from his post at BP, one of the UK’s largest companies.

In a statement he expressed regret for lying about where they met.

“For the past 41 years of my career at 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,” Lord Browne said in a statement.

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

“Legal documents have been disclosed today containing allegations about me and my personal life.

“I wish to acknowledge that I did formerly have a four-year relationship with Jeff Chevalier.

“He has made these allegations about me and our relationship to Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard.

Mr Chevalier had told journalists that during their four-year relationship Lord Browne diverted BP resources for his use and discussed company secrets with him.

He also alleges Lord Browne divulged details of discussions with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Lord Browne called the allegations misleading and erroneous.

“I deny categorically any allegations of improper conduct relating to BP,” he said in his statement.

“The company has confirmed today that it has found no such wrongdoing.

“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. It was retracted and corrected.

“I have apologised unreservedly, and do so again today.

Lord Browne, who joined BP as a trainee in 1966, said his concern was for the company’s repuatation, and for that reason he had decided to retire immediately.

“I have therefore informed the Board of BP that I intend to stand down as group chief executive with immediate effect, rather than retiring at the end of July.

“This is a voluntary step which I am making to avoid unnecessary embarrassment and distraction to the company at this important time.

“I have spent my entire working life with BP, and want to thank everyone for their dedication, loyalty, support and hard work in creating one of the worlds finest companies.

“I shall not be commenting on my personal issues further. I wish to pursue my personal life in private.”

Lord Browne, 59, met Mr Chevalier in 2002, and over the next four years provided him with a life of luxury, including paying for his accommodation, clothing and extensive international travel.

The peer also paid substantial sums of money to Mr Chevalier, and paid for a university course so that he could stay in the UK.

The High Court had previously ruled in a private sitting that as Lord Browne had taken his partner to various social events, including those connected with his duties at BP, the relationship was widely known about.

Lord Browne was one of the highest paid executives in the UK.

In 2004 he earned over £5m.

He was knighted in 1998 and created Baron Browne of Madingley in 2001.