Sir Philip Green has demanded an “immediate apology” from MP Frank Field following public accusations he made against the former BHS owner.
Lawyers representing Green, who yesterday was slammed in a select committee report on the demise of BHS, sent a letter to Field demanding the MP make an “immediate and fulsome apology” for public comments he made about the Arcadia tycoon.
The Topshop tycoon has also branded the MPs’ report into BHS “the predetermined and inaccurate output of a biased and unfair process”.
Field, who co-chaired the select committee inquiry, made comments on BBC Radio 4 that Green’s lawyers are describing as “defamatory”.
On the radio programme, Field compared Green to the late Robert Maxwell, who is known to have extracted millions from the Mirror Group’s pension funds.
The letter from Schillings requested Field apologise for his comments within 24 hours and said: “This statement is highly defamatory and completely false.
The letter points out that “there is nothing” in the recent report to support Field’s public allegation.
Field later told the BBC, however, that he would not apologise. The MP said: “Instead of writing a big cheque he is firing off lawyers’ letters. He needs to stop messing around and write a big cheque.”
Field’s comments came after the findings of the inquiry into the collapse of BHS by the Business, Innovation and Skills and Work and Pensions committees were published.
The report concluded that Green extracted large sums and branded him the “unacceptable face of capitalism”.
Meanwhile Green admitted that Dominic Chappell, who he sold BHS to for £1, was an unsound choice to sell the business to.
“With the benefit of hindsight, clearly Retail Acquisitions and Mr Chappell were a very bad choice as purchaser on many fronts and I feel badly let down. Sadly, one cannot turn the clock back,” Green said.
“The disposal of BHS was made […] in good faith and I still believe that we provided Retail Acquisitions and Mr Chappell with the appropriate finance (c. £200m of cash and assets) to take the business forward.”
Green also said he is still “trying to find a solution” for the BHS pension crisis.
It also emerged this week that BHS’s remaining 114 stores will close by August 20, following its collapse into administration in April.
The letter in full to MP Frank Field from Schillings, the law firm representing Sir Philip Green
We act for Sir Philip Green and write with reference to your interview on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.
In that interview you alleged that our client had stolen money, specifically from the BHS and Arcadia pension funds. This statement is highly defamatory and completely false.
Our client has never stolen any money from BHS, Arcadia or the pension funds and you know that. In particular, there is nothing in the recent Report of the Work and Pensions and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees, (the Report) (of which you were one of the Chairs) to support your allegation.
Clearly an allegation that our client is a thief is likely to cause him serious harm.
Further, in relation to the recent Parliamentary hearings and the Report and allegations made there you were protected by privilege. That does not apply to the interview this morning (or any others you intend to make). In the circumstances, our client requires an immediate and fulsome apology in relation to the allegation (to be agreed in terms of the content and manner by this firm in advance of publication).
We look forward to hearing from you on this point within 24 hours. This matter is clearly urgent as your defamatory statements are being repeated in the media, for which you are undoubtedly liable.
The other remedies to which our client is clearly entitled will very much depend on the form and manner of your response and in the meantime, all of our client’s rights are reserved.
Please acknowledge receipt.