Morrisons chairman, Sir Ken Morrison has defended former finance director Martin Ackroyd and blamed the media for forcing him out.

Sir Ken said that Ackroyd resigned as a result of “unfounded press criticism”. Commenting in the company’s annual report he said: “While the accounting problems at Safeway were not of his making. Martin Ackroyd had accepted full responsibility for the failure to keep full control during the year.”

The report also revealed that Sir Ken received a 16% pay rise last year. For the year to January 30, he earned £635,000 compared to £548,000 in 2004. This was despite the company’s first decline in profits following the takeover of Safeway.