‘IF PHILIP Green won’t do the right thing by the members of the BHS pension fund then he should have his knighthood removed. And if he says he can’t afford it, then he should sell up his extra yacht,’ shadow chancellor John McDonnell demanded yesterday.
McDonnell was responding to a damning joint report by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee and the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee published yesterday.
The report states: ‘Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and the respective directors, advisers and hangers-on who all got rich or richer are all culpable, with the only losers the ordinary employees and pensioners.’
The Committees say this is ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’ and that the story of BHS begs much wider questions about the gaps in company law and ‘pension regulation that must be addressed’.
The Committees state that Green’s ‘systematic plunder’ lead to the collapse of the historic clothing company which was founded in 1928. All of the remaining 114 stores will be shut by August 20 leaving 11,000 workers unemployed and a pension deficit of £571 million leaving 20,000 pensioners facing an extremely uncertain future.
The Committees state in their report: ‘Sir Philip Green must act now to find a resolution for the BHS pensioners, a “moral duty”which will undoubtedly require him to make a large financial contribution.’
Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: ‘One person, and one person alone, is really responsible for the BHS disaster. While Sir Philip Green signposted blame to every known player, the final responsibility for up to 11,000 job losses and a gigantic pension fund hole is his. His reputation as the king of retail lies in the ruins of BHS.
‘His family took out of BHS and Arcadia a fortune beyond the dreams of avarice, and he’s still to make good his boast of “fixing” the pension fund. What kind of man is it who can count his fortune in billions but does not know what decent behaviour is?’
Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, said: ‘The sale of BHS to a consortium led by a twice-bankrupt chancer with no retail experience should never have gone ahead; and this was obvious at the time.
‘The reason it did, however, was Sir Philip Green. He was determined to get the deal done, no matter that the buyer could not deliver what BHS needed. There was a complete failure of corporate governance, with Sir Philip bulldozing the sale through, without proper oversight or challenge from his weak and impotent board.
‘While BHS staff face uncertain job prospects and pensioners worry about their future entitlements, it”s clear that a large cast of directors, advisers, and hangers-on enriched themselves off the back of BHS, including Dominic Chappell and his fellow RAL directors. Chappell took no risk and put no money into the venture and yet gained huge rewards as BHS crumbled around him.
‘His failure is bad enough but that he effectively had his hands in the till is an insult to the employees and pensioners of BHS that he let down so badly.’