MP Meg Hillier slams Co-op boss’s swift resignation

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MP Meg Hillier

A Hackney MP has condemned Euan Sutherland, the boss of the Co-operative Group, for resigning after his salary was made public, saying he is “throwing a fit and throwing his toys out of the pram.”

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, said she was “shocked” by Co-op boss Euan Sutherland’s surprise exit, and said:

“If he’s embarrassed about his £3.6m salary package, he doesn’t have to take it.”

Sutherland’s total salary package was leaked on Sunday, showing an eye-watering £1.5m bonus from the struggling bank.

Ms Hillier, a supporter of the ‘mutual movement’ behind the Co-operative group, has slammed Sutherland’s actions as “deeply unhelpful”, saying it “actually threatens the group more.”

The MP told Radio 4 on Tuesday: “No doubt he believes he’s worth that, but then he shouldn’t be so upset if it’s leaked. And if he’s embarrassed it’s leaked, then he shouldn’t be taking the salary.”

Mr Sutherland said in February that the “absolute point of the Co-op is to be different”, but Labour members like Ms Hillier are disgruntled with his actions as Chief Executive of the public-owned company, which had received a £1.5bn government rescue package in June last year.

After Sunday’s salary leak, Mr Sutherland lashed out at members on a Co-op employees’ Facebook group, claiming some individuals were trying to undermine him.

He wrote: “We appear to have disaffected people who are determined to make life difficult and embarrassing for the Co-operative at a time when what we need most are professionalism and loyalty to the business.”

Ms Hiller responded to Sutherland’s outburst and defended the principles of the group, which is expected to announce huge losses and job cuts.

She said: “We do need leadership, but Ewan Sutherland is jumping the gun and completely ignoring the mutual ethos of the cooperative group. The bank is owned by its members, and for me that’s a fundamental part of what the movement is about.”

Chris Leslie, Labour shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, called the pay hike “very disappointing”.

He said: “I believe in the co-operative principle but I happen to think that Co-op should be acting differently.”