Monday, August 15, 2022

Fate of Sir Philip Green‘s knighthood remains uncertain

Sir Philip Green has been warned that he “remains on the hook” despite resolving his end of the bargain in the BHS pensions deficit scandal.

Frank Field, a veteran Labour MP and chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee who has locked horns with Green on several occasions since BHS collapsed a year ago, said the controversial retail magnate could face new questions from MPs and has been warned of losing his knighthood.

Field said Green has not done enough to keep his title, with concerns raised over the recent £363 million settlement struck between Green and The Pensions Regulator.

“Sir Philip Green remains on the hook,” Field told the Press Association.

“When Parliament comes back from the election we need to pursue the charge sheet from The Pensions Regulator against him and what the Pensions Regulator got in return.

“Once we have done that, we will realise how inadequate his settlement was.

“He has not done enough to hold on to his knighthood.

“It’s rather good that [Prime Minister Theresa] May is waiting for all the reports to come in before she makes a recommendation to the honours forfeiture committee.

“The case against Sir Philip will continue in the new Parliament.”

READ MORE: Sir Philip Green’s BHS deal “unravelling” as MPs criticise details

Field added that a new government bill was now needed to shore up the law surrounding pensions in order to shield assets.

“We must have a proper pensions bill in the new Parliament to protect these assets,” he said.

“We cannot rely on The Pensions Regulator to protect these assets. We have got to think nimbly to find a way to protect these assets that doesn’t bring down a firm with it.”

Earlier this year, Green agreed to pay £363 million to settle the BHS pension black hole in February, less than the £571 million deficit the firm was left with when it collapsed a year ago.

He said the move represented a ”significantly better” outcome than if the scheme entered the Pension Protection Fund.

The boss of the Arcadia Group – which includes Topshop in its portfolio – made a voluntary personal cash payment of £343 million towards improved benefits to the pension scheme members, and made available an additional £20 million towards implementation costs.

BHS was part of the Arcadia empire for 15 years before Green sold it for £1 to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell in March 2015.

READ MORE: Insolvency Service seeks legal action against Dominic Chappell

The department store chain plunged into administration 13 months later in April 2016, affecting 11,000 jobs and 19,000 pension holders.

Chappell, who may still face a criminal investigation, reiterated his apology to BHS staff and said he has “nothing to hide”.

“It was not any of our doing, the pension deficit in BHS. Green took hundreds of millions out in 10 years, made little or no investment back, and stuck two fingers up at the pension trustees for 10 years,” he said.

“He has paid back only a fraction of what he took out.

“The government should also take a long hard look at its own policies and be asking the question how has this happened and why there are over 5000 major companies which have massive pensions problems.

“The pension policies are not fit for purpose.”

Green has declined respond to the comments made by Field and Chappell.

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