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I'd struggle to afford taxis, ex-BHS boss tells court before getting driving ban

Published 23/08/2016

BHS's former boss, Dominic Chappell, has been banned from driving for speeding
BHS's former boss, Dominic Chappell, has been banned from driving for speeding

A former BHS boss told a court he would struggle to afford taxis and gets "abuse" when he takes the train before being given a driving ban for speeding.

Dominic Chappell, who bought the retail chain for £1, also said it would be a "stretch" to pay for a chauffeur, despite declaring an annual income of more than £250,000.

The 49-year-old was driving a green Range Rover on Churchill Way, Andover, when police clocked him driving at an average speed of 63.9mph at 8.47pm on April 6.

After being pulled over, Chappell told the officer: "I used to be a race car driver."

He had 10 points on his licence for three other speeding offences and was disqualified from holding a driving licence for six months at Aldershot Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Chappell took to the stand to plead with the court not to take his licence away.

His manor house in the Dorset village of Winterborne Clenston is apparently two miles from a bus stop and around 20 miles from the nearest train station.

Chappell's wife drives 100 miles each day taking his young son to a private boarding school, where his daughter is also a weekly boarder.

He has to attend meetings in London four days a week as part of discussions over the collapse of BHS, the court was told.

Michael Levy, defending, said: "You are currently assisting two Parliamentary committees, the insolvency service, the joint administrators and actively assisting the pensions regulator."

Chappell agreed and added: "I normally leave home at about 5.30am and return home at 9.30 in the evening."

He told the court he has to take "about 20,000 documents" to the meetings and continued: "At the moment we are in general questioning so I don't know what they need or when they need it so I tend to bring the majority of files with me."

Mr Levy asked: "So would it be practical for you to take these files on the bus with you?"

"It would be extremely impractical, there are about three boxes of files," Chappell replied.

Chappell declared a monthly income of £25,000 in writing to the court.

Mr Levy asked: "Would it be realistic for you to employ a chauffeur? Could you afford to?"

"I could but it would be a stretch," Chappell answered.

Mr Levy continued: "What about a taxi?"

Chappell said: "A return trip to London in a taxi would be £400 or £500 a day."

Mr Levy continued: "You yourself have been subjected to a certain amount of public abuse."

Chappell replied: "That's correct. I have only once taken the train to London and was in one of the carriages and two people I didn't know came over and started making quite strong language and suggestions."

He was given six points for his latest speeding offence, bringing the total on his licence up to 16, was fined £665 and ordered to pay £150 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, he said: "I have been disqualified for six months. I respect the court's decision.

"I was speeding and shouldn't have been, and that's what happened. I am sorry for that."

When asked about BHS workers, he replied: "I feel very sorry for them. British Home Stores has been a very difficult turnaround for us and I do regret that situation."

He said there are currently three investigations under way, which are due to conclude "over the next few months".

Chappell, a former bankrupt with no retail experience, bought BHS off Sir Philip Green in 2015 through his company Retail Acquisitions.

The collapse of the retail chain in April has left 11,000 people out of work and a £571 million black hole in the pension fund.

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