Michael Woodford, the CEO turned whistleblower who exposed a $1.7 billion fraud at the heart of Olympus – the world-renowned electronics giant – has won the Contrarian Prize.
The prize, which has been founded by Ali Miraj, 38, a Chartered Accountant and former politician, 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.
Woodford who acted from the top of the organisation despite intimidation and coercion from the very people that promoted him, said that he was, “delighted to be the inaugural recipient of such a prestigious prize”.
Ali Miraj said, “the panel of judges had a very difficult decision to make as the field was so strong but in the end we felt that Michael Woodford was the right choice. 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 CEO all for doing the right thing.”
The prize itself which was donated by the pop-art sculptor Mauro Perucchetti, is a smaller version of an iconic work of art entitled “The Three Politicians” which was recently exhibited as part of a public installation of his work outside the Louvre.
Woodford, who spent almost £1 million of his own money defending himself and won, displayed courage by acting alone and putting his own life and that of his family in danger because he spoke out.
Driven by principle and the desire to expose what happened in an effort to “make us all safer” he acted ethically in a post-Enron, post banking-crisis world.
18 March 2013
Renowned “pop-art” sculptor Mauro Perucchetti, has donated a prize 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.
The “Contrarian Prize” which has been founded by Ali Miraj, 38, a Chartered Accountant and former politician, aims to shine a light on those who have made a meaningful contribution to the public debate through the ideas that they have introduced or the stand they have taken.
“When I heard about this initiative I was delighted to be able to play a part. I have always believed in the importance of contrarian views” said Italian-born Perucchetti who is famous for his distinctive, large, brightly-coloured resin sculptures and has recently exhibited a selection of his work, in a public installation outside the Louvre. He has, in his pieces, addressed a number of thorny issues including cloning, contemporary consumerism and war.
The prize is entitled, “The Three Politicians” – the one who does not see, the one who does not speak out and the one who does not hear. “The Contrarian is the opposite of this,” says Miraj who is funding the project himself and has put together the initiative with the support of a handful of volunteers.
“The aim is to establish this as a highly-acclaimed prize which generates debate and discussion amongst ordinary people as to who should be nominated each year.” The inaugural prize-giving ceremony is at the Philip Mould Gallery in Mayfair on Monday 18 March. The shortlist of 5 contenders will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more infomation about Mauro Perucchetti’s work click here
Nominations for the Contrarian Prize 2013 are now closed. The judging panel will be meeting in the coming days to discuss the shortlist which will then be announced.
We have received a variety of nominations for individuals in British public life who operate in a myriad of sectors including business, politics, journalism and academia.
The common theme that unites them is that they have all taken a stand and not compromised on their principles. It is exactly this kind of independence, courage and sacrifice that the Contrarian Prize seeks to recognise.
We would like to thank all those members of the public that took the time to nominate an individual that they feel represents the qualities we are looking for. You have played a key role in a new and exciting venture.
The public are screaming out for leaders of principle. But do our parties have any to offer? – Click here to read the article in today’s Independent.
Ali recently went on Iain Dale’s show on LBC 97.3 to discuss the prize you can hear the discussion here;
It is good to see that Justine Greening and Zac Goldsmith have stuck to their election commitment to oppose a third runway at Heathrow.
The price for this position is that Greening has been moved from Transport to International Development and Zac has stated that if there is any change in Conservative Party policy ahead of the next election, then he will force a by-election in Richmond.
Regardless of one’s personal view on the need for expansion at Heathrow, it is refreshing to see two politicians sticking to their principles and standing up for their constituents.
Let us hope that others are inspired by their example.
The British public has lost faith in the key institutions in our country. Parliament, the press, the police and bankers are all in the dock. From the expenses scandal, to phone-hacking, to financial mismanagement, we have witnessed abuse on a gargantuan scale. Institutionally rotten cultures have been exposed and trust has broken down.
Having served as a local councillor and stood for Parliament myself in the past, I have often been the recipient of a drubbing from voters on the doorstep that view people in public life as unprincipled, selfish and all the same. People are disappointed and seem resigned to this.
But there are individuals who do stand up for their principles and beliefs and make a sacrifice by doing so. Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi and Copernicus are all examples.
We have seen figures in British public life too such as Ken Livingstone, John Redwood and Shirley Williams. The first left his party following an attempt to rig the selection process to be the Labour candidate for the inaugural London Mayoral elections, winning as an independent in 2000. The second resigned from the Cabinet to stand against John Major in 1995 for the Conservative party leadership as a result of a disagreement over the Government’s stance on Europe. The third, along with three others, decided to leave the Labour Party as a result of a rise in the influence of the far left and establish a new political party – the SDP (which later merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats) – in 1981.
The Contrarian Prize seeks to make a positive contribution. To get ordinary disillusioned people in Britain thinking about individuals in public life who are not just like everyone else. People who go against the grain, put their head above the parapet and stand up for what they believe.
Please join in the debate here. Suggest who you consider to be worthy of this accolade. You can also tweet using #cprize .
Have fun and spread the word.