Crocodile tears

“After nearly two hours turning over the rubble of his collapsed investment empire, Neil Woodford begins crying. He gets up and briefly walks off camera to compose himself, leaving an empty chair at his West Country home as the star of the video call. “Britain’s most famous fund manager, now its most famous failed fund manager, finally cracks under questioning about the allegedly macho culture at Woodford Investment Management. Could that have contributed to its destruction? He looks hurt and wells up as he remembers the day he told staff the business was being wound down in October 2019. The tears follow. “I found it very difficult,” Woodford recalls. “So when people say that sort of stuff about the organisation, about the culture, about the lies that have been told about the business and the people in it, that really, really hurts, because it wasn’t like that at all. It was an amazing place, with amazing people, who fought to the end.” “Woodford alternates between sadness and anger as he dissects his downfall in public for the first time. He is ready to say “sorry” to the ordinary investors who lost out on his disastrous bets, up to a point. “I’m very sorry for what I did wrong,” he says. “What I was responsible for was two years of underperformance – I was the fund manager, the investment strategy was mine, I owned it, and it delivered a period of underperformance.” But he is furious at the company’s administrator Link Fund Solutions for closing Woodford Investment Management and insists, after everything, he would have been vindicated had it stayed open. “I can’t be sorry for the things I didn’t do. I didn’t make the decision to suspend the fund, I didn’t make the decision to liquidate the fund. As history will now show, those decisions were incredibly damaging to investors, and they were not mine. They were Link’s decisions.” - Neil Woodford to launch comeback firm as he says: ‘I’m sorry for what I did’, Lucy Burton, The Daily Telegraph, 13th February 2021.

17 February 2021