A group of Conservative MPs have announced their plans to call on the Honours Committee to strip Arcadia Boss Sir Philip Green of his knighthood, if the retail tycoon refuses to provide hundreds of millions into BHS’s pensions fund.
The parliamentary group are set to write to the Honours Forfeiture Committee in the build up to Green’s parliamentary hearing next week. Green will be grilled on the demise of the department store chain which left a £571m pension deficit.
“If Sir Philip turns up next week and showers us with his wealth, throws £600 million on the table and all the pensions are saved, then that’s fine” a senior Westminster source told the Press Association .
“If not, there is such outrage that there will be open calls for his knighthood to be revoked, with a group of Tory backbenchers leading the charge.”
The backbenchers have informed the Business and Pensions Committees of their proposals, prior to next week’s meeting.
The Arcadia Boss will be questioned on his £400m dividends withdrawal from the business during his 15 year ownership of BHS and for selling it for £1 to the bankrupt Dominic Chappell who faced the committee earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Chappell claimed that Green had blocked Mike Ashley’s attempts to save the business.
Green was awarded his knighthood in 2006 for “services to the retail industry”, yet leaving the schemes of around 20,000 former and current BHS employees to fall into the Pension Protection Fund may jeopardise this.
The Conservative MPs could advise the Queen to withdraw the honour if a criminal offence has been committed, if a person has been struck off of a regulatory body or in exceptional circumstances.
Asked whether David Cameron would support the withdrawal of Sir Philip’s knighthood, the Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: “There is a clear process for looking at cases where people already have honours and those are called into question. There’s a Honours Forfeiture Committee. That process should be properly followed.
“If anyone wants to make a case, they need to make an application to the Honours Forfeiture Committee who would then consider it. It’s not Government, it’s a separate committee.”