Former Woolwich chief `comforted' by level of support


THE ousted chief of the Woolwich Building Society has received a "large mailbag" of letters from staff and business associates pledging support in his fight for compensation, he said.

Mr Peter Robinson (54), and his wife Janice, have returned to their £450,000 Kent home after a self imposed exile following the storm over his resignation as chief executive a week ago.

He said he was grateful for the support he had received but said he believed he had identified senior managers within the society who were responsible for an "orchestrated smear campaign" against him.

There had been reports of unauthorised use of gardeners and contractors at his mock Tudor home in the picturesque stockbroker belt village of Brasted, near Sevenoaks in Kent. Mr Robinson has denied all claims through his lawyers.

He said both he and his wife were "shocked and saddened" by the events of the past week adding. "The initial reaction of horror has turned to one of anger and determination to put these things right."

He claimed members of staff at the Woolwich, which plans to become a bank via a £3 billion flotation next year, had been asked to come forward with information about him.

"I deprecate what I believe is an orchestrated smear campaign against me. I'm getting lots of feedback about what is going on that staff have been invited to offer up any negative information about me and they are guaranteed that their jobs are not at risk.

Mr Robinson joined the society 33 years ago as a management trainee, he was an executive for 20 years, deputy chief executive for five years and chief executive designate for a year before taking over at the top on January 1st.

The Woolwich denied there was any smear campaign against him, saying its only public statement on the issue had been via two press releases and answers to journalists questions.

Mr David Black, head of corporate affairs said allegations against Mr Robinson had been the result of "journalist investigation" and not from any statements by the Woolwich.