The publication of a parliamentary report on Monday has piled more pressure on Sir Philip Green to make up the shortfall in pensions at stricken UK high street chain BHS.
The damning verdict from the select committee set up to look into the handling of the sale of the store chain, which employs 11,000, and Sir Philip’s stewardship of the company over the previous ten years was that Sir Philip and Lady Tina Green, who is a Monaco resident, had “plundered” the business with little thought for the pensions provisions of those employed in the chain. There is now a hole in the pension fund of more than £570 million.
The UK Cabinet Office is now actively considering removing Sir Philip’s title on the grounds that his business activities – certainly in the case of BHS – represent the unacceptable face of capitalism. But on Monday evening, Sir Philip launched a counter-attack and demanded an “immediate apology” from Frank Field MP, who co-chaired the enquiry.
Earlier in the day, Mr Field compared Sir Philip unfavourably to the late media magnate Robert Maxwell, who took millions from the Mirror Group’s pension funds before disappearing off his yacht. Mr Field said he had always believed that Mr Maxwell had intended to repay the millions taken from the newspaper’s pension fund, suggesting that Sir Philip did not.
“This statement is highly defamatory and completely false,” said law firm Schillings, representing Sir Philip.
The report, from the Business, Innovation and Skills and Work and Pensions committees and co-chaired by Mr Field, did not suggest that Sir Phillip had done anything illegal. But it said his failure to resolve BHS’s £571 million pension deficit was a major factor in the firm’s demise. The pension scheme is now in the Pension Protection Fund, meaning that its 20,000 members will receive less money than they had expected. SOURCES: Telegraph, Guardian, BBC.