By David Thompson
Two British Leyland chiefs talked yesterday of Sir Don. Ryder’s “hatchet job” on their management. One of them, managing director John Barber, admitted for the first time that it was Sir Don who told him he was sacked. The other chairman Lord Stokes, was asked three times if a hatchet job -followed failure by the City to provide enough cash to keep the car giant going.
Finally he told the Commons subcommittee which is probing the motor industry: “All right, yes , if you put it that way. But I have reservations.”
Mr Barber, who is to be replaced by Mr Alex Park, said when he was asked the same question: ” I do not know what a hatchet job is. All I do know is that Sir Don Ryder and Mr Tony Benn saw me in the Minister’s office and told me that there would not be a place for me in the new company.”
It was Sir Don—the Government industrial adviser, who masterminded the shake-up of British Leyland — who gave him the news, he said. Scottish Nationalist M P Hamish Watt told Mr Barber of a story which finished: “Sir, you may be hanging the wrong man.”
He asked: “Could it be now that we might re-write this to Ryder, you may be hanging the wrong man’?” Mr Barber replied: “I cannot give an impartial answer to that.”