Sunday Telegraph claims Laing director, formerly Heathrow chief executive, was compensated £1.1m for leaving BAA

Tony Douglas, former Heathrow chief executive turned Laing O’Rourke director, is at the centre of a million-pound mystery surrounding his departure from BAA.

BAA’s annual report for 2007 cites a £1.11m payment to an unnamed director as “compensation for loss of office”.

The Sunday Telegraph claims Douglas, now Laing O’Rourke’s chief operating officer, is the unnamed director. The paper alleges that Douglas negotiated a contract with BAA entitling him to compensation if he left for another company.

Both Douglas and BAA have strongly denied that he was paid off after leaving Heathrow. Douglas told the paper: “I certainly did not receive that sum of money. That sum of money and me are completely unconnected.”

Douglas left BAA in June 2007 to take up a new position at Laing O’Rourke. He was a key figure in the construction of Terminal 5, whose opening last week was beset by delayed and cancelled flights.

The Sunday Telegraph listed the building alongside other “Great British Building Blunders” such as the Scottish Parliament building, the Millennium Bridge and Wembley Stadium.