Let’s keep those snouts in the trough.

People outraged by big oil salaries will choke on the news that despite BP’s recent financial troubles, with the company reporting a 22 per cent fall in profits, its top brass earned nearly $24 million.

Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP, earned more than $6 million before he resigned last year, it has emerged. Figures from the oil group’s annual report show that the disgraced peer, who stepped down on May 1 last year after admitting that he lied in court, received pay, bonuses and share options worth $6.5 million, including a $3 million lump sum.

Apart from Lord Browne, none of the directors were granted a performance-related share award for 2007. The report said: “Performance failed to meet satisfactory levels and consequently no shares will vest in the plan for 2005-07.”

Union leaders have angrily denounced the payments. Jake Molloy, general secretary of the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee, the union for offshore rig workers, said: “To make these redundancies and cutbacks and to award themselves payments of this nature is hypocrisy beyond belief. It’s sickening.”