Sir Philip Green says he is ‘sad and very sorry’ over BHS collapse ahead of vote on his knighthood

Sir Philip apologised for the 'hardship and sadness' caused

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The Independent Online

The former BHS owner Sir Philip Green has launched a defence to restore his reputation ahead of potentially humiliating Commons debate on Thursday on stripping him of his knighthood.

The billionaire left BHS with a £571 million pension black hole shortly before it collapsed, leaving 11,000 people jobless. MPs will debate the BHS scandal on Thursday while an amendment demands his knighthood to “be annulled”.

In an interview with ITV News, Sir Philip said he was “very, very, very sorry” for the collapse of BHS hinting that he is close to agreeing a rescue deal for the failed retailer’s pension fund.

Sir Philip said: “I want to start with saying how sad and very, very, very sorry I am for all the hardship and sort of sadness caused to all the people who worked there, and all the pensioners.

”I hope and believe all the people that worked very closely with me at BHS for all those years, and some for the whole journey, will know it was never my intention for the business to have the ending it did.“

He added that he was in a "very strong dialogue" with the pensions regulator to find a solution, however he did not clarify the amount of financial support he would be willing to give.

Sir Philip Green tells Sky News cameraman 'that's going in the f****ng sea'

Sir Philip said: "The answer is, it will take what it takes to resolve it. We are in that discussion. There are some things outside of my knowledge... how it works, how the funds are deployed, how they're invested. The whole thing just needs to come together."

The pensions regulator said it has “yet to receive a comprehensive written proposal” from the retail magnate.

The regulator said in a statement: ”Our focus remains on achieving the best possible outcome for members of the BHS pension scheme and Pension Protection Levy payers and our discussions with Sir Philip Green and his advisers about a possible settlement are ongoing.“

This summer, Sir Philip was criticised for holidaying on Lionheart, his luxury yacht reportedly worth £100 million, on the Greek Island of Ithaca as thousands of former BHS employees were left unemployed.

Sir Philip was honoured in 2006 for “services to the retail industry” but has since been slammed for his role in the decline of the high street chain.

In June, Sir John Collins, who put Sir Philip forward for his knighthood said that he wouldn’t now recommend Sir Philip for an award in light of how the tycoon steered BHS.

Earlier this week, Sir Philip published a review by his lawyers which hit back at MPs over a report into the BHS failure published in July saying it was beset by “very serious factual and legal errors”.

But Ian Wright, the chair of the then business innovations and skills select committee and one of the MPs behind Thursday’s motion, said the criticism of their work by Green’s team was an attempt to “wiggle off the hook”.