Highlights from the Carillion directors’ evidence to MPs

Former Carillion directors struggled to answer for their stewardship of the company in an occasionally stormy evidence session in front of MPs on Tuesday. Here are some of the highlights.

Rachel Reeves MP: “You say how sad and disappointed you are, but what actions do you take? It’s just words. The money’s in the bank. Why don’t you give some money back and try to put right some of this wrong?”


Former interim Carillion chief executive Keith Cochrane: “The business got itself into this position …”

Frank Field MP: “The business didn’t, the directors did. It’s like lads who say, ‘I didn’t stab that guy, it was the beer.’


Reeves (to former Carillion finance director Zafar Khan): “Were you asleep at the wheel?”

Frank Field MP: “He was asleep somewhere else.”


Richard Howson, former chief executive, on trying to extract payments from Qatar: “I felt like a bailiff.”


Cochrane: “Clearly with the benefit of hindsight, should the board have been asking further, more probing questions? Perhaps.”


Reeves and Field (joint statement after the sessions): “This morning, a series of delusional characters maintained that everything was hunky dory until it all went suddenly and unforeseeably wrong.”


Khan: “The key priority was to get the debt down.”

Heidi Allen MP: “Did you do that?”

Khan: “Yes, we did.”

[a brief further exchange followed]

Khan: “The debt increased. We were unable to get the debt down.”