Trying to shirk responsibility for spill, BP CEO predicts ‘lots of illegitimate’ lawsuits because ‘this is America.’

HAYWARDBP is financially responsible for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, so it is desperately trying the limit the financial and legal fallout. The company tried to buy off coastal residents and local fishermen hired to help clean up the mess with payments and jobs in exchange for signing a waiver promising not to sue. Alabama’s attorney general and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano both decried the waivers and asked BP to stop circulating them, prompting the company to admit it had made a “misstep.” The company has vowed to pay all “legitimate” legal claims from residents or businesses who suffer from the disaster, but BP CEO Tony Hayward insultingly told the Times of London yesterday that because “this is America,” many of the claims will be “illegitimate”:

Mr Hayward reiterated a promise that BP “will honour all legitimate claims for business interruption”. Asked for examples of illegitimate claims, he said: “I could give you lots of examples. This is America — come on. We’re going to have lots of illegitimate claims. We all know that.”

On Monday, Hayward told Good Morning America, “This wasn’t our accident. … This was a drilling rig operated by another company. It was their people, their systems, their processes. We are responsible not for the accident.”