You have all seen that video of Jeff Fairburn from Persimmon Homes stumbling and mumbling his way through an interview with a reporter who dares to ask him about his £75 million bonus.
The joke of it is that Fairburn and his off-camera flak act as if the questions were rude or surprising. In fact, they were obvious and gently put.
He certainly doesn’t look like a man who is worth £75 million, reduced to saying “he’d rather not talk about it”, and moaning at the hack for doing his job. Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail described Fairburn as “the FTSE 100s gift to Jeremy Corbyn”.
Plainly, Fairburn wants to keep the money. And equally plainly, defending the indefensible is not easy.
But I’ve had a go at an answer that would at least be an improvement on his effort.
How about: “It is a huge amount of money. I assure you I am aware of that. But the bonus emerged because the company’s performance exceeded expectations. The board set targets and we beat them. I know the legislation was helpful, but we still had to do the job. What happens next is tricky; I don’t want to rush into it. I’m thinking about it though. I intend to look after my family. But I also intend to do a great deal of public good with that money.”
There. Wasn’t so hard, was it?