A CONSTRUCTION firm boss embroiled in a £100m-plus bonus row is handing some of the cash to charity in an attempt to fend off criticism of his bumper pay-out.

Jeff Fairburn, chief executive at housebuilder Persimmon, says he will set up a private charitable trust to support a number of causes.

Mr Fairburn today (Wednesday, February 14) said it was always his intention to donate a “substantial amount” of his triple-digit award, bestowed for strong company progress, adding he regrets not making his feelings public sooner.

However, he hasn’t revealed how much of the bonus he will be donating.

The move follows a heated backlash towards Mr Fairburn and Persimmon, with public and investor criticism of the pay-out matched by the resignations of company chairman Nicholas Wrigley and remuneration committee chairman Jonathan Davie.

The situation centres upon a long-term incentive plan, first announced in the aftermath of the economic downturn in 2012, which is expected to see senior officials share as much as £800m.

The scheme was designed to reward executives with shares worth up to ten per cent of the company’s total value depending on how much the business, which has offices in Bowburn, near Durham City, returned to shareholders.

However, it has been criticised because Persimmon, headquartered in York, has benefited from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which provides support to get more people on the property ladder.

“I profoundly regret the strong performance over the last few years is being eclipsed by the controversy surrounding the long-term incentive award”, said Mr Fairburn, who became eligible for £40m of the pay-out on New Year’s Eve.

“I did not seek these levels of award, nor do I consider it right to keep them entirely for myself. Once it became apparent our performance would lead to a very significant award for me, I made plans to use a substantial proportion to support charities particularly important to me and my family.

“But, in what might be considered to be an old-fashioned approach, I believed this was a personal matter and that I would be able to do this privately.

“It’s now clear this was misplaced, and I am making my plans public and recognise I should have done so sooner”, added Mr Fairburn, who began as a quantity surveyor in Persimmon’s Yorkshire business.

The housebuilder has developments in Shildon, County Durham, and Aykley Heads, on the outskirts of Durham City, as well as sites in Shotton, near Peterlee, and Northallerton, North Yorkshire.