£660k Carillion boss Richard Howson pictured smiling weeks after he quit firm with hefty deal

NIcholas Cecil, Kate Proctor
Fat-cat package: Richard Howson at the Hôtel le Kandahar last August, after quitting Carillion

Smiling for the camera, Richard Howson appears in a relaxed mood just weeks after quitting as boss of the stricken Carillion construction giant with a fat-cat financial package.

The birthday picture was taken last August at the Hôtel le Kandahar in the Alpine resort of Chatel, where his family is understood to own a six-bedroom chalet with an outdoor hot tub.

Carillion said in July that Mr Howson had stepped down as chief executive after five years “with immediate effect” as it announced a profit warning and strategic review.

But since then it has emerged that the ex-boss walked away with a hefty financial deal, said to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mr Howson is also reported to have received pay and perks totalling £1.5 million in 2016 and to have had an annual salary of £660,000.

“Simple yet luxurious”: Richard Howson’s family is understood to own a chalet in the Alpine resort of Chatel

Anger over his pay package has grown after the company collapsed yesterday, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk, as well as future pension payments for many workers.

Shadow minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett said today: “While thousands of construction workers, cleaners and others employed by Carillion will from tomorrow have little way of paying their rent and mortgages and be struggling to put food on the table, the people responsible must be held to account. It’s unacceptable to allow bosses in charge of Carillion to walk away with their privileged lives untouched.”

The Government stepped in to ensure that staff employed by Carillion delivering public services in schools, hospitals, prisons and construction projects get paid.

But it only offered this safety blanket to thousands of workers on private-sector Carillion contracts for 48 hours, which runs out tomorrow. Theresa May today chaired Cabinet with the firm’s demise top of the agenda.

It was one of the biggest failures in recent corporate history in Britain and trade unions were warning of the knock-on effect to hundreds of sub-contractors.

Mr Howson could not be contacted today and his whereabouts were not known. After stepping down as Carillion boss, he appears to have headed shortly afterwards for the family chalet.

It offers catered accommodation during the ski season for up to 10 guests with a chef, according to its website, which reveals the high-life enjoyed by the Howsons. In the summer, it can cater for 18 people.

The website says: “We have created a terrace area on the side of the property with the view of the mountains of the portes du soleil and installed a hot tub which is a great place to relax those aching muscles after a day in the mountains.”

Mr Howson and his wife Geri say the chalet in the French resort is “the result of more than a decade of dreaming”, having both learned to ski in their twenties. The Howsons also have a large home in North Yorkshire and a Range Rover.

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington told Parliament yesterday that the Official Receiver would investigate the role of the company’s former and current directors, warning they could face “severe penalties” if found to have committed any wrongdoing.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Carillion’s collapse was a “watershed moment” that should bring an end to “rip-off privatisation” of public services.

Carillion, which employs around 20,000 workers in Britain and a further 23,000 overseas, went bust with £900 million of debt and a £587 million pension deficit.

Shareholders will be wiped out and lenders including HSBC, Barclays, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland are reportedly set to lose an estimated £2 billion.