In an explosive interview with the Mail on Sunday, Sir Philip Green has admitted that selling BHS was “the worst mistake” of his life, but that he believes “nothing” from the ensuing debacle around the sale was his fault.
During the first public interview Green has given since selling BHS for £1 to Dominic Chappell in 2015, Green said he regrets the decision to sell the chain he owned for 15 years, but that the attacks levelled at him were fuelled by jealousy.
The Topshop tycoon faced intense press and public scrutiny after Chappell (who has been bankrupt on three occasions) drove the BHS business into the ground.
With Chappell at the helm for just a year, BHS went into administration, resulting in the loss of 11,000 jobs and a huge deficit in its pension fund.
When asked if what happened as a result of the sale was his fault, Green replied “None. Zero. Nothing.”
Green also admitted that he had been taken in by Chappell adding, “clearly with what subsequently occurred, I and our board were wholly misled by everyone involved with (Chappell). Was it the worst mistake of my life? Yes, it was. Horrible. Ugly.”
“Those people who know me know there is no way on this planet (BHS) would have been sold to him if I had even a millionth of a thought process he would do what he did.”
Green said the ensuing fallout over BHS’ £571 million pension deficit was also, in part, the fault of a “personal vendetta” on the behalf of the chair of the work and pensions committee Frank Field.
The Arcadia boss also pointed out that his payment of £363 million into the BHS pension scheme last year had not received enough credit: “I wrote a cheque for £363 million,” Green continued.
“But nobody has ever said, this man behaved like a gentleman, his family behaved properly.”
Since BHS’s demise, the House of Commons has recommended that his knighthood be revoked, while the press have criticised Green’s famously lavish lifestyle of yachts and multi-million-pound birthday parties.
In the wake of such claims, Green argued, “I don’t think it’s grand living,” he said. “You’re saying I have been successful and I should have to apologise for that? . . . I’ve paid (the cheque), what am I supposed to do? Take all my clothes off and say I’m skint?”