Belfast Telegraph

Sir Philip Green's BHS payout 'doesn't wipe stains from his reputation clean'

Allowing Sir Philip Green to keep his knighthood would be like "rewarding an arsonist who put his own fire out", an MP who co-led a parliamentary inquiry into BHS's collapse has said.

MPs unanimously recommended the Topshop owner be stripped of the title following an outcry over BHS's demise that left a half-billion pound black hole in its pension fund.

On Tuesday he agreed to pay more than £360 million to help settle the schemes of thousands of former workers.

Iain Wright, chairman of the Business Select Committee, said letting Sir Philip retain his title would be the "biggest case of cash for honours that we've ever seen".

He welcomed the payout but said it "doesn't wipe the stains from his reputation clean".

"It's like rewarding an arsonist who put his own fire out," the Labour MP told the Daily Mirror.

Sir Philip's contribution, agreed with the Pensions Regulator, is significantly less than the £571 million deficit BHS was left with in its pension pot, but he said it represents a "significantly better" outcome than the schemes entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

News of the settlement came after Sir Philip was grilled by MPs over the sale of the chain, which he owned for 15 years before selling it for £1 to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell.

The collapse of the high-street giant left thousands out of work and the deficit in its pension scheme affected about 22,000 holders.

Mr Wright and Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, led the double inquisition into the firm's sale and subsequent collapse.

Labour MP Mr Field, who served as Sir Philip's chief agitator during the probe, said it was a "really important milestone on the road to justice", but added: "We are far from reaching the end of that road."

In a letter to The Times, he said the Insolvency Service had put together a "top team" to take a "forensic" look at how and why the retailer went under.

"The liquidator is likewise taking its work up a gear, poring through the deals that took place between Sir Philip Green and Dominic Chappell," he said.

He added that the Government had "key decisions" to make at the end of the investigations, on how to hold those responsible to account and how it can prevent similar incidents occurring again.

"Only then will the journey towards gaining justice for the BHS pensioners and former workers be complete," Mr Field said.

The Pensions Regulator said anti-avoidance enforcement action against Sir Philip and his companies will cease in light of the settlement, but action continues in respect of Mr Chappell and his firm, Retail Acquisitions.

A petition calling for the Honours Forfeiture Committee to strip Sir Philip of his title attracted nearly 150,000 signatures.

Popular