BP oil executive accused of 'stonewalling'

(AP) - Chastened by heavy criticism, a grim-faced BP chief executive Tony Hayward insisted Thursday he was "devastated with this accident" in the Gulf of Mexico and denied shunning tough questions from Congress on the nation's worst oil spill.

Click "NEXT" under the video player to watch Hayward's testimony."I'm not stonewalling," Hayward told a House investigations subcommittee, responding to repeated suggestions that he was dodging questions.

Hayward - the man President Barack Obama suggested he would fire if he could - said he was "deeply sorry" for the spill that's been gushing for more than eight weeks. "I understand the seriousness of the situation, the frustrations and fears that continue to be voiced," he said.

Waiting to testify, Hayward had to endure more than an hour of mostly unrelenting criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.

"We are not small people, but we wish to get our lives back," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., the subcommittee chairman, told Hayward, throwing back comments made the day before by BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg - about how BP sympathized with the "small people" of the Gulf - and Hayward's earlier remark that he wanted his "life back."

Later, Hayward appeared unflappable during a tense exchange with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the full House Energy and Commerce Committee. Speaking slowly and calmly in his British accent, he sought to deflect accusations - based on internal BP documents obtained by congressional investigators - that BP chose a particular well design that was riskier but cheaper by $7 million to $10 million.

Hayward repeatedly said he didn't make those design choices as CEO. "I'm not stonewalling. I simply was not involved in the decision-making process," Hayward told Waxman, adding that the well's engineering team clearly had grappled with such issues.

"What's clear to me," Waxman interrupted, "is that you don't want to answer our questions."

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