So farewell Mr Fairburn, boss (till the end of the month) of the house-builder Persimmon.
He is the victim of his inability to handle fall-out from his £75m bonus, but is he himself wholly to blame? Where were his media advisors when he was questioned, quite legitimately, about his bonus in a BBC interview?
Well, we know exactly where they were…a few feet to Mr Fairburn’s right, just out of camera shot, but clearly and vainly trying to halt the interview – “Can we not?…sorry…”. It was desperate, hopeless and made Mr Fairburn look weak, fumbling and – crucially – unprepared.
The issue of his bonus had almost led to a successful investors’ revolt seven months earlier. Did it not occur to his media advisors that the issue might arise again, and that it might be a good idea to work out how to handle it?
Some points they might have considered – the bonus, though large, was less than he was entitled to, it was linked to the company’s share price which had increased sixfold in the last six years, and in any case “this matter has been already fully discussed by the board and by our investors”. The advice should have been – those are your positive messages. If the interviewer persists, repeat the same messages.
Instead, Mr Fairburn has been forced to leave.
Where, one wonders, are those media advisers now?