UK - The London Pension Fund Authority has today started a legal battle for a reduction in the severance and pension package for Lord Browne, outgoing chief executive of oil major, BP.

The local authority fund is co-signatory to a challenge led by US class action lawyer, William Lerach, in a court in Alaska.

Lord Browne's total remuneration package on leaving is not yet certain but is estimated at £70m (€100m).

Separately, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, an activist collective which represents British public sector funds with assets of £70bn, has made a veiled threat that it will campaign against BP's policy on executive remuneration at the annual general meeting on April 12 unless the company better links reward with environmental and safety performance.

A refinery explosion in Houston in 2005 and a spill in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, last year have tarnished both the company and Lord Browne's reputation. Concerns about the state of pipelines in Alaska used by BP stretch back 15 years.

Publicly-quoted companies in the UK have to give institutional shareholders the right to an advisory vote on executive remuneration. BP has never lost such a vote before.

Although their status is advisory, and therefore not binding on management, any dissent by investors on April 12 will embarrass a company that has rebranded itself as environmentally-aware.