Speaking before the Treasury Select Committee this morning, Myners defended his part in the Goodwin pension scandal, blaming the board of RBS who he said: “bent over backwards to be generous to Sir Fred”.
Myners argued that they “framed” Goodwin’s exit as a request to retire rather than a requirement to retire, meaning he could automatically be entitled to his full pension payout at 50. Myners said the RBS remuneration committee doubled Goodwin’s pension.
Myners said: “RBS said Sir Fred’s pension reflected his contractual entitlement, it simply did not. RBS was also advised very seriously by [pension consultants] Watson Wyatt that this would have adverse consequences and their shareholders would not approve of their decision.”
But ministers argued that Myners did not fully investigate the details of the pension plan; George Mudie MP called Myners “bloody naïve”.
Andrew Tyrie MP asked Myners: “Did you ask the size of the pension?”
Myners replied he did not, but admitted he was aware the payout would be large from a conversation with RBS senior independent director Bob Scott: “Bob said to me ‘the pension will be enormous, you know that?’ and I acknowledged that because Sir Fred was a very well-paid person.”
He also admitted that: “Scott was quite confused about the pension and even disclosed to me that it would not be disclosed immediately, and spread over a few years in order to deflect adverse comment.”
Tyrie replied: “So you knew it would be politically sensitive, you had been told it would be large and it didn’t occur to you to ask roughly how large? Are you asking us to accept that as a reasonable action of a competent minister?”