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Disgraced BHS boss threatens to sue MP after accusations over collapse of chain

By Staff Reporter

Published 26/07/2016

Threat: Sir Philip Green
Threat: Sir Philip Green

Sir Philip Green has threatened to sue Frank Field after the MP used a radio interview to accuse him of behaving like a thief.

The retail tycoon launched the latest salvo in his war of words with the Work and Pensions Select Committee chair as it published its scathing report on the collapse of Bhs earlier this year.

He demanded that Mr Field apologise publicly for his comments on BBC Radio 4's Today programme within 24 hours.

Mr Green added that if the MP failed to so, he would have to pursue "other remedies" to which he was "clearly entitled".

A letter sent to the Labour MP by the retail tycoon's solicitors read: "In that interview you alleged that our client had stolen money, specifically from the BHS and Arcadia pension funds.

"This statement is highly defamatory and completely false. Our client has never stolen money from Bhs, Arcadia or the pension funds, and you know that.

"Clearly, an allegation that our client is a thief is likely to cause him serious harm."

The letter said there was nothing in the report, co-authored with the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, to support Mr Field's allegation.

Sir Philip's lawyers pointed out that although the report and all of Mr Field's comments made during the evidence sessions were protected by parliamentary privilege, the interview was not.

In the interview on Monday morning, the Birkenhead MP compared Sir Philip to Robert Maxwell - the notorious former owner of the Mirror Group who stole from the company's pension fund - and Napoleon.

He said there was no corporate governance at the firm, as there would be at a public company, and accused Sir Philip of having "a collection of people" who simply did his bidding.

Bhs went into administration with a pensions deficit of £571m just one year after it was sold to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell for just £1. Around 11,000 people now stand to lose their jobs, with the company's 88 stores due to close by August 20.

Mr Field said: "Money beyond the dreams of avarice has gone to the Green family, and 11,000 workers are now going to hit the dole queues (and) 22,000 pensioners are suffering cuts.

"I think that is worse because he has it in his power to do things. Maxwell didn't have it in his power, and the music stopped while there was no money there."

Mr Field additionally called on Sir Philip to fill the hole in the pension scheme.

The report also urged Prime Minister Theresa May to strip the tycoon of his knighthood.

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