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MPs united in call for Sir Philip Green to be stripped of knighthood over BHS

By Staff Reporter

Published 21/10/2016

Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green
Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green

MPs have sought to ramp up the pressure on Sir Philip Green by unanimously recommending his knighthood be cancelled.

The former BHS owner was branded a "billionaire spiv" and compared to Napoleon as politician's lined up to criticise his role in the retail chain's demise.

The firm's collapse resulted in 152 job losses in Northern Ireland as its four stores in the province were closed down.

MPs yesterday asked the Honours Forfeiture Committee to ensure Sir Philip's knighthood was "cancelled and annulled", with the move viewed by one former minister as part of the businessman's "humiliation".

The unprecedented decision is non-binding, although Downing Street indicated that it believes the independent committee may have a decision to make in the future.

The Government also called on Sir Philip to "quickly" remedy the BHS pension scheme deficit, with investigations under way into the conduct of BHS directors and the management of the pension scheme.

BHS went into administration with a £571m pension scheme deficit shortly after being sold for £1 by Sir Philip to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell.

Iain Wright, chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said BHS was "one of the biggest corporate scandals of modern times".

The Labour MP told the Commons: "(Sir Philip) took the rings from BHS's fingers, he beat it black and blue, he starved it of food and water, he put it on life support, and then he wanted credit for keeping it alive. His extraction of value early on in his ownership made the company less able to innovate, to retain a market share or have a competitive place in the retail market, which would allow the firm to generate the profits and be in more of a position to survive the growing pension deficit.

"This drip, drip decline provided the backdrop to Sir Philip's wish to sell the business."

Labour MP David Winnick questioned how Sir Philip was deemed worthy of a knighthood in 2006, highlighting how the tycoon had put the business in the name of his wife, who lives in Monaco.

He also said: "I see Green as a billionaire spiv, a billionaire spiv who should never have received a knighthood, a billionaire spiv who has shamed British capitalism, and the least we can do today is to make our views clear and strong."

Tory MP Richard Fuller suggested the tycoon had failed "to find his moral compass" in not addressing the store's pension deficit over the summer.

Labour former minister Karen Buck said there have to be wider consequences for the "sake of the reputations of good business" and the Government.

Belfast Telegraph

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