Water chief grilled by MSPs over 'film star' salary

THE chief executive of Scottish Water was forced to defend his salary yesterday when he appeared before Holyrood's finance committee.

Water authority managers answered questions on why they offered a large bonus for the chief executive, but only modest ones for junior employers.

It came as the committee was told by representatives of the Pay Policy Unit that there were no plans to downgrade top public salaries to tackle the recession.

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Scottish Water's chief executive, Richard Ackroyd, who appeared before the MSPs, earns a basic salary of 263,000 plus a 40 per cent bonus. Junior employees at Scottish Water are limited to a 900 bonus, worth around 5 per cent of their salary.

Mr Ackroyd's high salary had been singled out by former SNP committee member Alex Neil, now a minister, as "a film star salary."

But Mr Ackroyd claimed he was "comfortable" with his salary being largely performance-related.

Scottish Water's chairman, Ronnie Mercer, insisted that the salary was worked out before Mr Ackroyd was approached as 95 per cent of the going rate for chief executives in the water industry.

He added that, in reality, it was nearer to 85 per cent.