Mr John Barber and Mr John Simon, the two most senior casualties of the Ryder Report on British Leyland and the company’s subsequent reorganization, were yesterday formally dismissed. Both men held service contracts and no compensation has yet been agreed.
Mr Barber, formerly managing director of the old company, British Leyland Motor Corporation, was paid £42,000 a year and had a contract with nine years to run which could bring him £378,000 compensation. He said last night that he would be consulting his solicitor. The dismissals came at what was possibly the last meeting of the board of BLMC after a request from the board of the new parent company, British Leyland Limited.
The meeting was chaired by Lord Stokes, chairman and chief executive of the old company, who has been offered, but so far not accepted, the post of honorary president. Both Mr Barber and Mr Simon, former executive director and head of the international division, attended the meeting. Mr Barber, 56, said later he had not tried to fight the issue at the meeting because “it is something we have been living with for months “.
He said he had not decided what job to take on next, nor had he a particular sector in mind; but he added that he had perhaps more experience of the motor industry at senior level than anyone else in the country. Mr Barber received considerable sympathy from the House of Commons Expenditure Committee, which earlier this week heavily criticized the Ryder Report.
He said last night he did not understand why there had been so much focus on him in the Ryder Report, since he had been managing director for only eight months. However, he supposed that if the Ryder team had to be seen to be doing something, “chopping” the chief executive (Lord Stokes) and the managing director might seem to be sufficient. Asked why he had not resigned after being told he would not be needed, Mr Barber said: “I did not see why I should. I was managing director of a major company with 200,000 shareholders. It was my job to stay on to the bitter end to see that they got the best deal possible from the Government.”