Sunday, October 21, 2018

Government pledges for BHS Insolvency reports to be made public


The British government is looking to publish the Insolvency Service’s investigation into the collapse of department store chain BHS, amid continued inquiries by the House of Commons and Business Select committees.

While it is currently illegal to publicly expose confidential Insolvency Service reports, the government has concluded that there will be large amounts of public interest on the findings. The Service is in talks with lawyers as to how to make an exception to the rule for the BHS inquiry.

As it stands, Business Secretary Sajid Javid has now ordered a fast-track investigation of the high street retailer’s demise. The Insolvency Service has collected around 200,000 pages of evidence surrounding the case so far.

“The Government will consider what detail it is appropriate to publish, having full regard to any legal restrictions on publication” an Insolvency Service spokesman said.

Chairman of the Business Select Committee, Iain Wright stated that he is eager to see the report on BHS published, “by whatever means possible”.

Ahead of his hearing on Wednesday, Sir Philip Green has asked the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee Frank Field to step down from his role. MPs are set to grill the Arcadia owner on why he sold BHS to Dominic Chappell for £1, whether he is responsible for the pension deficit which may have been spurred by Green’s family extracting £400m from the business  and will question if he as any pension compensation plans.

Green’s involvement with the demise of the business has also led to the possible threat of stripping his knighthood.

“Although the loss of his knighthood would be the single most damaging thing to Sir Philip and Lady Green‘s reputation, I do not think this is the appropriate response” commented Lord Myners, an adviser to the select committee .

 “Once the investigation is completed, the Government will consider what detail it is appropriate to publish having full regard to any legal restrictions on publication, and also the legitimate public interest in the cause of the BHS failure” an Insolvency Service spokesman added.

Following a further invitation to provide written evidence on BHS and confirmation that he wanted to buy the business before, The Sunday Telegraph found that the Sports Direct owner has pledged to administrators to reopen discussions to “save a number of stores, jobs and the BHS name”.