Belfast Telegraph

Sir Philip Green accuses Frank Field of using him as 'political football'

Sir Philip Green has issued a staunch defence of his £363 million settlement deal for the BHS pension fund and accused Labour MP Frank Field of using him as a "political football".

The billionaire tycoon said Mr Field had made "misleading statements" and was "disingenuous" for calling into question the agreement struck between himself and the Pensions Regulator.

It comes after the veteran MP told the Press Association that Sir Philip had not done enough to keep his knighthood and remained "on the hook" for the collapse of BHS.

The department store chain plunged into administration a year ago today, impacting 11,000 jobs and around 19,000 pension holders.

In a letter to Mr Field, the Arcadia boss said he had honoured his pledge to "sort the BHS pensions issue".

He wrote: "I thought, clearly wrongly, that as Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee you had some knowledge and understanding of the very complex pensions system and how it works. That is clearly not the case.

"I also believe you have an obligation as Select Committee Chair to understand all the facts and therefore not misrepresent them or make misleading statements.

"I made a commitment to your committee that I would sort the BHS pensions issue. I have done what I said I would do and I have put the pensioners in a considerably better position than they would have been in had they stayed in the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF). "

Sir Philip agreed to pay £363 million to settle the BHS pension scheme in February, less than the £571 million deficit the firm was left with when it went bust in April last year.

He made a voluntary personal cash payment of £343 million towards improved benefits to the pension scheme members, and made available an additional £20 million towards implementation costs.

Mr Field said when the settlement was announced that it was "not justice, but it is a milestone", while Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of the Pensions Regulator, said the deal was a " strong outcome for the members of the BHS pension schemes".

The Topshop owner was grilled by MPs over the sale of the chain, which he owned for 15 years before offloading it for £1 to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell in 2015.

In his response to Mr Field, Sir Philip added: "I strongly object to your vindictive behaviour in using me as your political football.

"I don't believe, in your role as chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, you should be abusing your Parliamentary position in this manner."

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