MPs will vote next week on whether to strip Sir Philip Green of his knighthood after the retail magnate left BHS with a £571 million pension black hole shortly before it collapsed, leaving 11,000 people jobless.
It will be the first time the commons has debated whether to annul an honour. The vote is not binding but if the motion is carried it will put significant pressure on the honours forfeiture committee, which has the power to take back Green’s title.
Conservative MP Richard Fuller, who put forward the motion with Michelle Thomson MP, said on Thursday: “The idea that Green should continue to use a knighthood for services to retailing is just wrong … This is about expressing a legitimate sentiment about the way someone has behaved.
“We hope that other MPs will add their names to this amendment and that it will be acted upon.”
Green was honoured in 2006 for “services to the retail industry” but has since been slammed for his role in the decline of the now-defunct high street chain. Green and his family, who are Monaco residents, extracted hundreds of millions in dividends and loan repayments from BHS and have been accused of underinvesting in the chain, leading to its ultimate collapse and the loss of 11,000 jobs.
In June, Sir John Collins, who put Green forward for his knighthood said that he wouldn’t now recommend Sir Philip for an award in light of how the tycoon steered BHS.
“From all I have read, integrity in relation to dividends paid and the going concern aspect of the company that left 11,000 people without jobs, and the sale of BHS and the quality of the due diligence and the decision to sale it with the question mark over whether the buyer had the credentials to make it work,” Collins said.
“A very high level of dividends were paid out of the company and the company has now found itself no longer a going concern. You would have to questions whether those dividends were affordable.”
A parliamentary inquiry into Green’s conduct issued a scathing report saying that MPs had “found little evidence to support the reputation for retail business acumen for which he received his knighthood”.
Green rushed through the sale of the troubled retailer to twice-bankrupt Dominic Chappell, who had no retail experience, without adequate scrutiny, MPs concluded.