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Sir Philip Green sends letter to MPs as 'damning' BHS report looms

Published 15/07/2016

Sir Philip Green claims he pushed for a 'sustainable solution' to BHS's troubled pension scheme
Sir Philip Green claims he pushed for a 'sustainable solution' to BHS's troubled pension scheme

Sir Philip Green is upping his efforts to assist MPs in their investigation into the collapse of BHS as they prepare to publish a damning report into the retailer's demise in the coming weeks.

The billionaire Topshop tycoon has written an extensive letter to the business and pensions committees defending his ownership of the department store chain, with their findings due to be published on July 24.

In it, Sir Philip outlines more than £400 million of investment into BHS and claims that he pushed for a "sustainable solution" for the firm's troubled pension scheme.

He also says that he offered to help bankroll to the tune of £5 million a rescue bid for BHS from fellow billionaire and Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

"The purchase would include buying all of the stock, for which Mr Ashley offered to pay £10 million. This amount was not acceptable to the administrators. It appeared that £15 million to close the deal would work and I therefore offered the additional £5 million to help the business be sold as a going concern," he said.

However, Work and Pensions Committee chairman Frank Field said: "Sir Philip is aware we are writing our report and is suddenly volunteering all manner of last-minute assistance."

A Westminster insider also told the Press Association: "The committee gets the feeling that Sir Philip, having tried to exert his control over the process, is now understanding that the report will be damning and is attempting to vindicate himself by sending over large swathes of documents."

Sir Philip's reputation has taken a battering since BHS collapsed in April, leaving behind a £571 million pension deficit and putting 11,000 jobs at risk.

The billionaire, who owned the retailer for 15 years until 2015, has come under fire for taking £400 million in dividends from the company and then selling it to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell for £1.

In response, Sir Philip said: "Frank Field never ceases to surprise me. I was merely responding to the questions in a letter that he signed."

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