Belfast Telegraph

Sir Philip Green 'wants to correct inaccurate reports on BHS collapse'

Sir Philip Green has broken his silence over the collapse of retailer BHS, claiming that he wishes to correct "inaccurate and misleading" reports about his conduct when he faces MPs.

In a letter to MPs Frank Field and Iain Wright, chairs of the select committees that have called Sir Philip to appear before them, the retail tycoon cautioned them on "jumping to conclusions" over his role in BHS's administration.

Referring to statements by various MPs claiming Sir Philip asset stripped BHS, dumped it with a £571 million pension deficit and should lose his knighthood, the billionaire said: "These statements suggest that you are leaping to conclusions before any evidence from any witness has been heard. They suggest that there will be no real attempt to run your inquiries in a fair way and that the outcome is pre-determined."

Sir Philip has come in for widespread criticism after the retailer collapsed last week, a year after he sold it for £1, putting 11,000 jobs at risk and leaving a £571 million pension-fund black hole.

MPs from the Business and Work and Pensions select committees will probe the billionaire over a £400 million dividend payment made to his family from the business and over his management of the pension scheme.

The letter continues: "The inquiries of your committees depend on the voluntary assistance of witnesses. As you are aware, your inquiries now overlap with a number of parallel regulatory and other investigations and proceedings.

"You must appreciate that witnesses will be less willing to offer your committees their assistance if the committee chairs do not act in a responsible way, in particular appearing to encourage public vilification of witnesses before the inquiries have even begun."

The man who Sir Philip sold BHS to, Dominic Chappell, will also appear before the committees.

The Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, has also ordered the Insolvency Service to carry out an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of BHS, including the extent to which directors' conduct was to blame.

The investigation will look not only at the company's directors at the time of its insolvency, but also previous directors such as Sir Philip, who controlled BHS from 2000 to 2015. Any of them found to have been involved in misconduct could be disqualified from acting as a director for up to 15 years.