- Green casts doubt over his scheduled June 15 appearance before MPs
- Former BHS owner “concerned” over statements made by MPs regarding the alleged asset-stripping of BHS
- He told MPs to end his “trial by media”
Sir Philip Green has called for the resignation of parliamentary committee chair Frank Field, who is heading up a probe into the collapse of BHS.
Green made the demand after the chair of the Work and Pensions Committee said yesterday (May 5) that he would recommend Green be stripped of his knighthood if he did not agree to pay £571m – the full amount of the BHS pensions shortfall.
The committee is due to hear from Green, Arcadia boss and BHS owner from 2000 to 2015, on June 15. It will also hear from current owner Retail Acquisitions, a consortium of lawyers and financiers led by former racing car driver and bankrupt Dominic Chappell.
Field said yesterday: “Unless we’ve got this settlement on pensions I will be recommending the committee does precisely that [strips Green of his knighthood] in our report.”
He added: “If someone rats on the commitment he made to his workforce, we would want to reconsider whether honours are still appropriate.
“I think there would be demand, especially on the Tory side, not to be associated with what people have called the unacceptable face of capitalism.”
Green reacted immediately, issuing a statement calling for Field’s resignation from the committee, and casting doubt on his scheduled June 15 appearance.
Green’s full statement
He said in a statement: “I am horrified that Frank Field is prepared to make comments like this in public. I had in principle agreed to attend a hearing on 15 June.
“Clearly he has already made his decision as to what he feels the punishment should be without even hearing any evidence from anybody about BHS or the circumstances of the past 15 years.
“The company has had independent trustees, advisers, lawyers, over this whole period who have been paid substantial fees.
“The board or myself have never been involved in any decisions made by the trustees other than whatever they have requested we have complied with.
“I am somewhat confused at the £571m figure as this is as if an insurance company were doing a buyout. On the basis that I understand that Mr Field was a welfare reform minister, he should be somewhat more educated on pensions than he seems to be. This has never been a figure discussed previously with the regulator or PPF.
“Maybe Mr Field can explain why he wants to call me based on what he said this afternoon.
“As Monday is the first hearing with the regulator and the PPF, how can this be a balanced hearing based on this outrageous outburst this afternoon?
“I think Mr Field needs to stand down from the inquiry immediately as he is clearly prejudiced.”
The stripping of Green’s knighthood would align him with former RBS chief Fred Goodwin, who was stripped of his knighthood in 2012 after the bank collapsed in 2008.