07/02/2012 13:59 GMT

Stephen Hester Urges RBS 'To Prove Critics Wrong'

Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester has broken his silence after waiving a near-£1 million bonus by urging the bank's staff to "prove critics wrong".

In a memo to the bailed-out bank's employees he said recent coverage about the bank had been "personalised" and was "discomforting to say the least".

But he added that while he did not know how much "damage" the bank's position in the spotlight might cause it, "the best way to deal with it is to prove the critics wrong", the Press Association reported.

Hester wrote the note days after he was forced to give up a £963,000 share bonus amid huge political pressure and criticism that a bank should give its staff large pay-outs until it has returned the £45 billion to the taxpayer.

And his predecessor Fred Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood for his role in leading the bank to the brink of collapse.

Mr Hester said many employees had felt an impact from the criticism even though much of it had been "personalised" and mainly directed towards himself and Mr Goodwin.

The bank was "making good progress in the face of a difficult inheritance", he claimed. Even though RBS is still making a loss, it is ahead of its schedule to clean itself up following its bailout and and is now a much safer company.

He added that "RBS is full of good people, doing their best across a multiple set of challenges" and they can successfully overcome great obstacles.

But with the bank expected to take further criticism ahead of the bonus season, he said staff needed to bear in mind the bigger picture, with the wider public "facing uncertainties around jobs, earnings, housing values and many other things".

He added: "We matter to our customers and to society.

"That means our businesses have a positive future to look forward to. And those who drive them and serve our customers well day in, day out, do too."

He also thanked people who have given him messages of support in recent days.