Sir Philip Green to appear before MPs over handling of BHS

Sir Phillip Green BHS store
GETTYSir Phillip Green could find himself under investigation if he does not attend an MPs inquiry

16 June, 2016

Arcadia Group tycoon Sir Philip Green today endured a six-hour interrogation by a Business, Innovation and Skills and Work and Pensions Select Committee regarding the failure of BHS and the retailer's outstanding pension deficit.

The retail tycoon said he took ultimate responsibility, under questions in what proved to be a combative session lasting nearly six hours with the joint Business and Work & Pensions committees.

"I'm here to sort this in the correct way", he said, adding: "There does seem to be a light in the tunnel".

And Mr Green defended his Jersey-registered Taveta Investments by claiming that he could have been "a lot more aggressive" with dodging tax than he has been.

He told the lawmakers that the new plan would offer BHS pensioners a "better outcome" than compensation available from the Pension Protection Fund, the levy-funded United Kingdom lifeboat scheme which helps finance pensions after company insolvencies.

Sir Philip said: "Sir, do you mind not looking at me like that all the time, it's really disturbing".

Sir Philip has also come under fire for taking £400 million in dividends out of the firm during his 15-year ownership, and for selling BHS to Mr Chappell for £1 in 2015.

"We one million percent would not have done business with him", if Green's own advisers had sensed that Chappell would not be a suitable buyer for BHS, he said. "I'm not going to tell you lies", he said and denied that he wanted to put BHS into administration.

Sir Philip indicated that he would revive a 2014 proposal that would have reduced the pension deficit by offering thousands of workers with small pension entitlements the chance to swap a distant trickle of retirement income for an immediate lump of cash.

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When asked why chose to base his business in tax haven Moncaco, Sir Philip said he moved there in 1998 due to a heart scare.

Sir Philip replies: "If it was easy everybody would be doing it".

Striking a more convivial tone, Mr Fuller added: "I think it is another parliamentary colleague that is known for his death stare".

Sir Philip will mount a vigorous denial of the claim, while Mike Ashley will submit evidence in writing detailing his version of events.

Green told the committee: 'I sought personally comfort from Grant Thornton and Olswang for being well-regarded firms'. It is expected that this issue will be addressed during the second half of today's hearing.

Sir Philip also took the blame for the current state of the scheme, admitting "it's my fault".

However, MPs appeared to miss one crucial question: how much money is Sir Philip willing to put in now? Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, will ask the board to pay the independently verified living wage, in the latest move of a campaign backed by ShareAction and Citizens UK.

The hearing begins at 09.15 BST and can be watched online.

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