Olympus whistleblower Michael Woodford was last night named winner of the Contrarian Prize, a new award which aims to recognise those who u2018put their head above the parapetu2019.
Woodford (pictured), who beat candidates including Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said he was ‘delighted to be the inaugural recipient of such a prestigious prize’.
The award’s organisers praised the former CEO for acting ethically in a ‘post-Enron, post-banking crisis world’, driven by ‘principle and the desire to expose what happened in an effort to “make us all safer”‘.
Woodford, who helped expose a £1.1 billion accounting cover-up at
Olympus Japan in 2011, was applauded for blowing the whistle on his
boardroom colleagues ‘despite intimidation and coercion from the very
people that promoted him’.
They added: ‘Woodford, who spent almost £1 million of his own money defending himself and won, displayed great courage by acting alone and putting his own life and that of his family in danger because he spoke out.’
The award was set up by Ali Miraj, a chartered accountant and former Conservative parliamentary candidate.
Miraj said: ‘This man was fired from a company for which he had worked for 30 years, giving up a seven-figure salary and the status afforded to a large cap [market capitalisation] CEO all for doing the right thing.’
The award aims to recognise individuals in British public life who ‘go against the grain and put their head above the parapet by demonstrating independence, courage and sacrifice’.
Last year, Woodford won a £10m settlement after suing Olympus for unfair dismissal – much of which he plans to donate to Reprieve, a human rights charity, and road safety campaigns.
[Picture credit: C Cheesman]