OUTRAGED union chiefs have slammed a £760,000 pay off to Northern Rock's former boss.
Adam Applegarth was the chief executive responsible for the mortgage lender's disastrous business plan, which sparked the first run on a bank in more than a century, causing wide-spread panic at branches across the country, including the two in South Tyneside.
The 45-year-old left last December but received a separation package which sees him paid a monthly "wage" provided he does not accept any work paying more than 20,000.
Mr Applegarth will also be given a 2.5m pension when he turns 55, bringing him a retirement benefit of about 200,000 a year.
Northern Rock was taken into Government ownership in February after being forced to seek a Bank of England funding bail-out last year, totalling 25bn.
Earlier this month, Northern Rock's Government-appointed executive chairman Ron Sandler announced 2,000 job losses at the bank as a direct result of the nationalisation, however no positions are expected to be axed in the Prince Edward Road and Fowler Street branches in South Shields.
Disgusted union leaders have called for an inquiry into Mr Applegarth's business plan and pay-off.
Graham Goddard, deputy general secretary of Unite, said: "Those who contributed to the failure of Northern Rock must be held to account.
"Unite cannot accept that anyone whose actions contributed to the problems in the bank is able to walk away without any questions being asked of their conduct, or any form of reward.
"The failures which resulted in the crisis in Northern Rock mean that about 2,000 jobs will be lost. We want to see a full investigation into the events which led to the troubles of the bank.
"An inquiry must take a broad perspective of all those involved, including the previous management. The hard-working staff deserve to know what went wrong and that lessons will be learnt."
Mr Applegarth joined the bank as a graduate trainee almost 20 years ago, and became known for his aggressive business style, which received criticism from the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee for leaving the bank vulnerable to global credit problems.
The "golden goodbye" is due to be outlined in Northern Rock's annual report today, which will also include the bank's long-awaited results for 2007.