Belfast Telegraph

Decision on stripping Sir Philip Green of knighthood 'could take years'

The decision on whether Sir Philip Green is stripped of his knighthood could be delayed for years after the forfeiture committee chairman said they will wait for BHS probes to end.

Despite public and political support for Sir Philip to lose his title, the head of the Honours Forfeiture Committee said it was important they first considered the outcome of investigations by pensions and bankruptcy regulators into the firm's collapse.

In October the billionaire was accused in the House of Commons of being an "asset-stripper" and MPs backed a motion urging the committee to recommend the title be "cancelled and annulled".

The collapse of the high-street giant in 2016 left thousands out of work and a £571 million deficit in its pension scheme, affecting approximately 22,000 holders.

The Pensions Regulator and The Insolvency Service are currently probing the circumstances that led to the retailer being placed into administration in April last year.

Sir Jonathan Stephens, chairman of the forfeiture committee, told Frank Field, the Labour MP who co-chaired a parliamentary inquiry into BHS' demise, that the decision will be reserved until the outcome of the probes.

In a letter sent on January 17 seen by The Times, he said: "As you know, the Government is taking the circumstances surrounding the collapse of BHS very seriously, including investigations by the Insolvency Service and the Independent Pensions Regulator.

"I believe it will be important to ensure any consideration of Sir Philip's case by the forfeiture committee should have the benefit of the findings of the independent inquiries into BHS by the relevant regulators."

Sir Jonathan said the motion passed by MPs in October "will be carefully considered".

Mr Field told The Times: "I don't think justice delayed is justice denied. I think we should be proud of our system.

"If BHS had been run on the same proper and careful lines as the honours forfeiture committee, then 20,000 workers would still have a job and 11,000 workers would be getting their full pensions."

In January Mr Field urged the Pensions Regulator to speed up its efforts to secure the pension fund and the watchdog said it was "in discussions" with Sir Philip's advisers to reach a settlement.

The regulator began enforcement action against Sir Philip and serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell, who the tycoon sold the retailer to for £1, in November.

In May the Insolvency Service launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the administration of BHS, although the regulator said it would not provide public updates on its probe.

Sir Philip was knighted by the Queen for services to retail in December 2006.