Was Stephen Hester forced out or did he jump?

Stephen Hester has announced he is to step down as RBS chief executive. Photo: Press Assocation

The truth behind Stephen Hester’s surprise departure from RBS appears to fall somewhere in between the two traditional routines of political resignations.

Like it or not, and in fact it was one of the things Stephen Hester hated, being the boss of RBS is almost as political as it comes.

Yet the truth appears to be somewhere in between.

After a hideous experience over his bonus, Stephen Hester was pretty open about the fact he had thought seriously about leaving, he told me last year he was "within inches of quitting".

Watch my interview with him from last May:

But recently he had changed his mind and in fact, told people privately that he would like to stay and see the bank through privatisation, probably starting at the back end of next year.

Yet in recent weeks the board and indeed the Chancellor came to the view that the boss who would see the bank through privatisation would have to stay around for longer than just managing that deal.

Hester is surprisingly candid that the decision was the board’s. He says: "I would have liked to have stayed".

But the board and the government’s decision was different.

Although Hester says he was "comfortable" with the rationale, and Treasury sources insist it was by "mutual agreement" – listening to him it feels rather different.

We’ll be talking to Mr Hester in the next hour.

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