Tony Hayward, who is stepping down as chief executive of BP in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, has said that he was turned into "a villain for doing the right thing."
In his first interview since deciding to resign, Hayward told the Wall Street Journal that he did everything possible after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, by taking responsibility for the spill and spending billions on the clean-up operation and efforts to stop the leak.
The newspaper said he was unrepentant about BP's response to the spill and that he resented criticism from the Obama administration, although he also admitted that he "understood their frustration."
"I became a villain for doing the right thing," Hayward said in the interview. "But I understand that people find it easier to vilify an individual more than a company.
"I didn't want to leave BP, because I love the company," he added. "Because I love the company, I must leave BP.
"In America, the road back will be long but I believe achievable when the whole truth of the accident finally emerges and the Gulf Coast is restored. BP can rebuild faster in America without Tony Hayward as its CEO," he continued.
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Hayward, 53, also told the paper that some comments he had made — which earned him a reputation for being gaffe-prone — were "wrong," particularly his infamous "I'd like my life back."
However, some critics remained unimpressed.
"Mr. Hayward should be less concerned about his vindication, and more concerned about what BP will do to end the victimization of families and businesses in the Gulf," Rep. Edward Markey told the Journal. "It will take years of continued commitment to the restoration of the Gulf before BP has the legitimacy to engage in historical revisionism."
Richard Charter, senior policy adviser for maritime programs at conservation group Defenders of Wildlife, added: "No one in his right mind would characterize BP's effort as successful."
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