Sir Philip Green, the Arcadia tycoon, has been appearing before Parliamentary committees to explain his role in the collapse of British Home Stores (BHS).
The issue is probably particularly important to him as he has faced calls to be stripped of his knighthood.
He owned BHS until a year ago, when he sold it to ex-bankrupt Dominic Chappell, who has already given evidence.
The firm collapsed in April, leaving a huge hole in its pension fund that means former employees face the loss of 30 per cent of their pension pot.
In evidence, Sir Philip appears to have admitted responsibility for the £50 million pensions black hole, although at the time of writing he has made no offer to sort it out.
One bizarre moment occurred when Sir Philip addressed Richard Fuller MP: “Sir, do you mind not staring at me like that… it’s making me uncomfortable.” Look at him in a funny way?
Mr Fuller responded that, in his career, he has learnt “if you’re doing something important you should look them straight in the eye”.
One very disturbing moment was when Sir Philip suggested that links between BHS and Arcadia should be dealt with at his offices, by back office staff. This information would not be evidence to the committee; Mike Ashley tried the same dodge several times regarding Sports Direct.
The billionaire businessman used his opening remarks to apologise to BHS staff affected by the collapse, saying there was “certainly no intent on my part to be involved in this”
Chair Frank Field asks why Sir Philip Green moved to Monaco, with all its tax advantages. An evasive Sir Philip Green responds: “Someone suggested it”.
Sir Philip seeks to avoid providing information regarding the link between BHS and his company Arcadia by saying. “I don’t want to discuss it because it’s not my forte,” he says, adding: “I might give you some wrong information.” He would prefer MPs visit the offices themselves and he’ll get his back office staff to deal with it.
Sir Philip Green addresses the central allegation he has has siphoned off cash from businesses he owned: “I have never made or moved one penny from any bank account of our company and I wouldn’t even know where to phone to get any money out of our bank.”
The former BHS boss is now being grilled on pensions. One of the key questions he has to answer is whether more could have been done under his management to protect the pension fund. The firm now faces a multi-billion blackhole following its collapse.
Sir Philip says “I was not in charge of the pension fund”, but MPs are not impressed. Michelle Thompson MP asks: “Surely you’re ultimately responsible?”
Sir Philip accepts responsibility for a £50m collapse in the BHS pension fund.
“It’s my fault. The answer is it wasn’t dealt with, we’re here and we’ve got to find a solution,” he says
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