The former chairman of Cable & Wireless Communications has defended the group's controversial pay scheme which saw 55 top executives extract £80 million from the company in five years, according to the Financial Times
. Sir Richard Lapthorne - who still chairs the international arm of the group - said the pay scheme was vital to retain the services of key employees such as John Pluthero, who joined when CWC bought rival Energis for £750 million. But Vodafone, which bought the UK arm of the company earlier this year for £1 billion, says it found the company had been starved of investment. CWC is one of Britain's oldest technology companies. It was formed to carry telegraph messages around the empire in the 1860s.