Watchdog pressured over Sir Philip Green’s influence on BHS report
Frank Field is writing to the FRC to demand information about how Sir Philip Green wishes to alter its report.
Sir Philip Green’s attempt to influence a report that threatens to expose the billionaire’s business dealings relating to BHS has been questioned by his long-time nemesis.
Labour MP Frank Field, who headed up the parliamentary inquiry into BHS, is asking the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) for details on who received draft copies of its findings on BHS, and what amendments have been requested.
The FRC slapped PwC with a £10 million fine for its 2014 audit of BHS, which came ahead of the retailer’s doomed sale to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell.
Steve Denison, the partner responsible, was fined £500,000 and banned from practising for 15 years.
However, Sir Philip’s firm Taveta Investments has applied for a judicial review to force the FRC to change its report on BHS.
Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Field said: “Well, what has he got to hide?
“I am writing to the body to ask them about each draft of the report underlining their decision, who had access to those drafts, and what changes did they request.”
I thought we'd get it out of the horse's mouth, so to speak Frank Field
It will be the second time Mr Field has written to the FRC about the BHS audit, having already asked why the regulator has not published its 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 Mr Field.
The inquiry into BHS’ demise, and its £1 sale to Mr Chappell, branded Sir Philip the “unacceptable face of capitalism”. MPs ultimately called for Sir Philip’s knighthood to be rescinded.
Mr Field is convinced the report contains information that has a bearing on the “jobs and pensions disaster” at BHS.
However, the FRC has only described Mr Denison’s actions as “misconduct” and has not published its full report.
Mr Field hopes the issue can be resolved through correspondence with the FRC, and does not intend to call witnesses in front of the Work and Pensions select committee, which he chairs.
“I thought we’d get it out of the horse’s mouth, so to speak,” he said.
The FRC said it will publish its findings as soon as possible, but that the publication is subject to legal proceedings.
Sir Philip declined to comment.