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Former BHS owner bids to clear name in court

He bought BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015.

Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has appeared in court in a bid to clear his name after being convicted of breaching pensions laws.

The 51-year-old was ordered to pay more than £87,000 in February – including a £50,000 fine – after being found guilty of failing to provide information about the firm’s pensions schemes to investigators when it collapsed with the loss of thousands of jobs.

During a preliminary hearing on Friday, Hove Crown Court heard Chappell’s barristers had been unable to make much progress with the appeal because he did not have enough money to pay them or legal aid.

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(PA Graphics)

Addressing Judge Christine Henson QC, his defence barrister Michael Levy said: “Since his conviction, Mr Chappell was not in a position to continue to instruct anybody to continue to work on his behalf.

“It sounds a bit pathetic I know, but this is why I’m not in a position to give your honour the detail you expect.”

Judge Henson asked if Chappell would be representing himself at the appeal as a result, but Mr Levy said there was “no danger” of that.

He said Chappell’s trial defence of calling only himself as a witness had not been “satisfactory” and after a “complete re-think”, they now plan to call three other people to give evidence at the forthcoming hearing.

The director of company Retail Acquisitions, which bought BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015, was prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) under the Pensions Act 2004.

The self-described entrepreneur and former racing driver, of Blandford Forum, claimed he did “everything and more” to help the regulator, but he was found guilty of three charges after a four-day trial in January.

At the time, district judge Gary Lucie said Chappell had shown a “complete lack of remorse”.

BHS went into administration in April 2016, leaving a £571 million pension deficit. Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363 million towards it.

Previously Chappell had branded his sentence “harsh” as he announced he was appealing and said it had seen him “financially crippled”.

But outside the court room on Friday, he said it would be inappropriate to comment further until the appeal proceedings had concluded.

He is due back in court on July 2 for another administrational hearing before his appeal is due to take place for up to a week from September 17.

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