Newspaper headlines: 'Explosive' BHS hearing dominates press

The dramatic hearing before MPs into the collapse of retail chain BHS dominates the papers.

Former chief executive Darren Topp accused ex-owner Dominic Chappell of having his "fingers in the till" and threatening to kill him.

The Guardian says "explosive" allegations were made to MPs.

"The reputation and competence of the former owner came under sustained attack from witnesses," it says.

"Chappell later claimed allegations of a death threat by Topp were 'a nonsense'."

The Financial Times says the session exposed the "ferocious acrimony" surrounding the group's collapse, which has left 11,000 jobs in danger and a deep pension fund deficit.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Dominic Chappell was the owner of BHS

The Daily Telegraph calls it a day of "savage allegations" about who was to blame for the failure of BHS.

The Telegraph reports that Mr Chappell personally blamed Sir Philip Green for the collapse, claiming that he blocked a "viable" rescue deal from Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

The Times states: "Pressure was mounting on Sir Philip Green last night after the businessman to whom he sold BHS was branded an SAS fantasist who allegedly threatened to kill the chain's chief executive in a row over money."

The paper adds: "Yesterday, an extraordinary picture emerged of Dominic Chappell and his consortium's chaotic ownership of BHS over the course of about a year before it collapsed, with MPs hearing claims of lies, guns, the SAS, death threats, yachts in the Bahamas and blazing rows."

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Unedifying spectacle

In a leading article, the Times notes that the BHS revelations came a day after Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley admitted to MPs that staff at his distribution centre in Derbyshire were paid below the minimum wage.

"Ever since television cameras were let in, the proceedings of the select committees of the House of Commons have become the best gladiatorial sport in Parliament," it says.

"If they are the best of politics they have also, over the past two afternoons, provided the unedifying spectacle of capitalism at close to its worst."

The Mail says the charges flying back and forth before the committee were "extraordinary".

It continues: "Amid these lurid allegations over the unedifying collapse of the 164-store chain, one question cries out for an answer.

"How on earth were characters like these ever allowed to take charge of a company on which 11,000 workers, 21,000 pension scheme members and countless suppliers depended for the livelihoods?"

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Media captionTimes senior political correspondent Lucy Fisher and Economist US editor John Prideaux join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages.

The Sun says Sir Philip and Mr Ashley give British business a bad name.

"We rightly celebrate the job-creating success of entrepreneurs," it says, "but this sort of callous behaviour tarnishes businesses everywhere."

The Mirror believes the accusations flying around painted a terrible picture of life at the top of corporate Britain.

"The rancid details really matter because 11,000 BHS workers face the loss of their jobs and lower pensions, while taxpayers may have to pick up the redundancy bill while suppliers go unpaid."

The Telegraph says business is the world's most powerful engine of prosperity and progress despite the cases of BHS and Sports Direct.

It concludes: "There is no excuse for companies breaking the rules by tampering with pension funds and mistreating staff, but the firms that do are the ignoble exception to a successful rule: profit-seeking businesses make us all richer and more free."

Career in 'tatters'

The fall from grace of tennis player Maria Sharapova after she was banned for two years for failing a drugs test is widely covered.

The Telegraph says her tennis career is in "tatters".

"The 29-year-old former Wimbledon champion announced in March that she had tested positive for meldonium, which boosts blood flow and can improve endurance, but insisted she had been prescribed the drug for 10 years for 'health issues'," reports the Telegraph.

"The independent panel that found her guilty criticised her for concealing her use of the drug, saying she was the 'sole author of her misfortune'.

"Sharapova described her suspension as 'unfairly harsh' and said she would appeal."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Maria Sharapova faces an uncertain future

The Guardian says it leaves the illustrious tennis career of the richest athlete in the history of women's sport hanging in the balance.

"The 29-year-old Russian - who had been provisionally selected to play at the Rio Olympics in August - intends to appeal against the decision.

"But in the likelihood that the ban remains in place, her prospects of reaching the standards that won her five Grand Slam titles will be seriously diminished by such a long absence."

The Mail dubs it "the shaming of Sharapova".

The paper says the ban was backdated to January when she failed the test at the Australian Open which means she cannot play another Grand Slam tournament until the French Open in 2018.

North Pole challenge

The Times has news of plans by British explorer David Hempleman-Adams to sail around the North Pole.

"The Northeast Passage was first traversed in 1878, taking two years and requiring a specially adapted steamship," says the Times.

"The first time the Northwest Passage was crossed, on the other side of the North Pole, it took three summers and was considered a crowning triumph of Norwegian exploration.

"This year, with Arctic sea ice levels lower than ever before recorded, a British explorer plans to do both journeys in six months on a glorified sailing yacht.

"If he is successful, David Hempleman-Adams will have performed a feat considered inconceivable even a decade ago."

Mr Hempleman-Adams, 59, is already the first person to climb the highest mountain on each continent and reach both poles - the so-called explorer's grand slam.

But, as the Times explains, he said this would be his most extreme challenge.