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The truth about CEO departures

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On November 26 2014 Thomas Cook surprised everyone with the news that Harriet Green, until then seen as an energetic and successful CEO, if a bit, erm, unusual, was stepping down.

The RNS described a “transition to new Chief Executive” as if this were a long standing plan.

Harriet Green herself offered this quote: “I always said that I would move on to another company with fresh challenges once my work was complete. That time is now.”

No one believed a word of it, but the assumed truth was hard to report because lawyers (theirs and ours) were watching.

The Times reported the chairman insisting there had been no fall out. The change was “lined up” a year ago and indeed instigated by Ms Green, he claimed.

Yesterday, a rather different picture emerged as Green gave evidence to the business select committee.

Today’s headline in the same paper: “I could have saved firm if I hadn’t been fired.”

A question: why do businesses routinely fib about this sort of stuff? Why don’t regulators order them to just tell the truth, as they do in most other areas?

And a conclusion: if hacks find it frustrating that we sometimes just assume you aren’t telling us the truth, this is partly the reason why.


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