BHS: Sir Philip Green prepares to answer MPs' questions on BHS

Sir Philip Green with Naomi Capmbell Image copyright Getty Images

MPs are preparing to question Sir Philip Green about the sale and collapse of retailer BHS, which he sold last year for £1.

The billionaire, whose empire includes Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins, had threatened not to give evidence.

MPs on the Business and Work and Pensions committees are conducting a joint inquiry into BHS's demise.

Last week, Sir Philip called for the resignation of Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions committee.

He claimed that the Labour MP was biased, and called for his resignation in a letter on Friday.

"I am not prepared to participate in a process which has not even the pretence of fairness and objectivity and which has as its primary objective the destruction of my reputation," Sir Philip told Mr Field.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Sir Philip said he was "disappointed" by the lack of a response from Mr Field.

'Very sad' story

"I did not think or believe that those conducting a parliamentary process would or should express concluded views in such a public way before I have had the chance to appear before the committee," he said.

"Having given long and hard thought to the matter however, I have decided I will attend tomorrow morning, hoping and trusting that the committee will give me a fair hearing.

"This will be the first and only opportunity I have had to tell my side of the very sad BHS story and I will do my best to answer all the questions put to me in an honest and open way."

Sir Philip owned the department store chain for 15 years until 2015, when he sold it for £1 to a consortium led by Dominic Chappell.

Mr Chappell, a former racing car driver, had no retail experience and has been declared bankrupt at least twice.

Image copyright Reuters

BHS went into administration in late April, threatening 11,000 jobs.

After no buyer could be found for the 164 UK stores, BHS is in the process of being wound down.

Its shops will all close by the end of July, meaning staff will soon be unemployed.

The MPs will want to ask Sir Philip a wide range of questions, including:

  • why he decided to sell the business to someone with no track record of the retail sector
  • why in 2014 he abandoned a plan to restructure BHS and address the pension fund deficit
  • the nature behind the ongoing support for BHS from his Arcadia Group and why that support was subsequently withdrawn

Simon Jack: the questions Sir Philip Green must answer

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Mr Field had called on Sir Philip to fully cover the £571m deficit in the BHS pension scheme, which covers 20,000 current and former employees.

The BHS pension scheme has had to be absorbed by the Pension Protection Fund at a cost of about £275m.

Several politicians, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell, have said Sir Philip should be stripped of his knighthood if he failed to attend the hearing on Wednesday morning.

Sir Philip agreed to appear on condition that his wife Tina Green, who lives in Monaco and owns a company that controls Arcadia, was not called.

The hearing begins at 09.15 BST and can be watched online.

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