The former BHS boss Sir Philip Green has been called an “asset stripper” by a Labour MP, who said he stood by previous comments describing him as “evil”.
Frank Field said Sir Philip had “plundered” the company, the last of whose stores closed on Sunday, and which had employed 11,000 staff and now faces a pension deficit of £571m.
“What he turns out to be is a sort of asset stripper,” Mr Field told Sky News.
Mr Field is joint chair of the parliamentary work and pensions committee, whose report found that BHS had been subject to “systematic plunder” by its former owners, Sir Philip and then Dominic Chappell, a former racing car driver who had been declared bankrupt on more than one occasion, to whom Sir Philip sold the company for £1.
Sir Philip may yet make a voluntary contribution to the pension scheme, possibly of around £300m, if regulators agree to end their investigation into the company. Irrespective of the years of plunder of which he is accused, years of historically low interest rates have been terrible news for pension schemes.
Mr Field said it would be “great to get a settlement which ensures no one takes a pension cut, but that’s not the end of the story”.
MPs from all parties have called for Sir Philip to be stripped of his knighthood. In the meantime, the Serious Fraud Office is investigating whether the collapse was caused by deception. If evidence of wrongdoing is found, it is hard to see how Sir Philip will be able to keep his title.
Mr Field said: “It doesn’t get the jobs back which is the key thing, but it means justice will be delivered even it it’s late.”
Sir Philip had previously threatened to sue Frank Field for defamatory remarks made about him, and originally refused to appear before the work and pensions select committee unless Mr Field was removed from it. He did eventually agree to give evidence.
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