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BHS: Philip Green attacks 'kangaroo court' inquiry

Sir Philip Green, Frank Field Image copyright PA
Image caption War of words: Sir Philip Green (L) and Frank Field

Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green has accused the co-chair of a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of the firm of overseeing a "kangaroo court".

In the latest salvo in the war of words between Sir Philip and Frank Field, the tycoon said the MP had tried to create a "false narrative".

He said he had not broken any rules and there was "no legal liability" for him to fill a £571m pension deficit.

The Labour MP has rejected the allegation.

Mr Field accused Sir Philip of "displacement therapy" and said he had to "face up to the evil he has done in destroying BHS", repeating his demand for the Topshop owner to do something about it by writing "that big cheque".

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Media captionFrank Field: "This is the man that's responsible for the destruction of 11,000 jobs, putting 22,000 pensions at risk"

'Cumbersome and slow'

Sir Philip says progress was being made in addressing the black hole.

In his letter to Mr Field, the chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Sir Philip said the process and timetable for solving the issue had been set by the Pensions Regulator and was "cumbersome and slow".

He added: "If you continue to seek to usurp the Pension Regulator's role with your characteristically unfathomable statements and hurl daily abuse at us, any failure to arrive at a pensions solution will be down to you."

Mr Field responded that he hoped to meet with the pensions regulator and the head of the Serious Fraud Office this week to discuss what progress is being made to resolve the matter.

Apology demanded

On Monday, a joint report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee suggested Sir Philip, who ran BHS between 2000 and 2015, had extracted large sums from the company and left it on "life support".

The report said his failure to resolve BHS's pension deficit was a major factor in its demise and Labour MP Mr Field has used several media interviews since then to say Sir Philip should "write a cheque".

Further comments in a radio interview prompted lawyers for Sir Philip to say Mr Field had made a "highly defamatory and completely false" statement and demand an apology.

Image copyright PA
Image caption BHS announced it was closing in June after efforts to find a buyer failed

In his letter, Sir Philip said he had tried to stay silent and focus on working towards a solution for the BHS pensioners but was "not prepared to continue to allow your abuse to go unanswered".

Sir Philip said: "Even before the parliamentary inquiry started hearing from witnesses, you turned it into little more than a kangaroo court, with your constant press campaign barracking and insulting me and my family and your announcement from day one that the predetermined result of the inquiry was that I either sign a large cheque or lose my knighthood."

He added: "Your repeated attempts to lead the public into thinking that it is simply a matter of me writing a cheque are utterly disingenuous."

BHS is in the process of closing down, after decades as a mainstay of British high streets, after what the MPs' report called the "shambolic" ownership of Dominic Chappell, who bought the retail chain from Sir Philip for £1 last year.

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