Standard Life life and pensions chief executive Trevor Matthews has apologised after a member of staff complained about his public use of a racist phrase.
Matthews used the phrase while addressing over 550 Standard Life staff at a meeting organised by Amicus yesterday in Edinburgh to discuss changes over the company pension scheme.
In response to a question on why the proposed closure of Standard Life’s final-salary scheme was buried at the back of the prospectus on demutualisation, Matthews said: “That’s the nigger in the woodpile.”
Following the speech, a formal complaint was lodged with the company by a member of staff.
This morning Matthews circulated an apology to all staff at the life company saying: “I would like to apologise to you for using an inappropriate phrase during my presentation at the first pensions briefing for SLAL staff after lunch on Monday this week.
“I deeply regret saying what I did – it is not in any way a reflection of what I think. As soon as the words came from my lips I realised that I had made a serious mistake by using a colloquialism that is not in any way acceptable today.”
Matthews added that he was against all forms of discrimination and said he would also be apologising to the individual who lodged the complaint.
Matthews told The Herald last night: “It was a terrible mistake by me, I am very upset about it and I deeply apologise. It was a phrase that was common in my childhood, I don’t know how it slipped out, and as soon as it did I was sorry. Anyone who knows me knows I am certainly not a racist, I am completely the opposite. I believe in the equality of the human spirit. I have never said it before in a public forum and I will certainly never say it again.”