Sir Philip Green begins High Court battle with watchdog over BHS audit
The businessman’s firm, Taveta Investments, is seeking an injunction to stop publication of ‘criticisms’ contained in a report on a 2014 BHS audit.
Sir Philip Green has launched a High Court bid to stop “criticisms” of him and his firm from being made public by the accountancy watchdog.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) last week handed a £10 million fine to PwC for its 2014 audit of BHS, which was sold by the businessman’s Taveta Group for £1 ahead of its demise in 2016.
The FRC also sanctioned Steve Denison, the audit partner responsible, fined him £500,000 and banned him from performing audit work for 15 years.
However, the body has not yet published its findings and Sir Philip’s holding company, Taveta Investments, is now attempting to block the publication of certain details.
Lawyers for the firm told a judge in London on Thursday that it is not seeking a “blanket prohibition” but wants the FRC to redact parts of its report which “contain criticisms of the claimant, its directors and employees”.
Taveta is asking Mr Justice Nicklin for an interim injunction ahead of a judicial review of the FRC’s report.
The FRC’s lawyers contend it should be allowed to publish its findings and argue that Taveta has no right to challenge the report.
BHS collapsed in the summer of 2016 with a sizeable pension deficit and the loss of 11,000 jobs, triggering a parliamentary inquiry spearheaded by Labour MP Frank Field.
MPs ultimately called for Sir Philip’s knighthood to be rescinded.
Mr Field, who branded Sir Philip the “unacceptable face of capitalism”, was in court for the hearing.
He has been pressing the FRC to publish its findings on the discredited audit and wants to know what changes have been requested by Taveta.
Mr Field wrote to both PwC and Mr Denison on Wednesday to ask for details about the audit.
He has asked PwC how many staff members worked on the audit, and whether any staff engaged in the work provided any other services to Sir Philip’s Taveta Group.
The hearing continues.