Insolvency Service Issues Statement on BHS

The Insolvency Service has issued a statement following its investigations into the collapse of the retailer BHS. Although subject to further court action the organisation is recommending disqualifications for Dominic Chappell, but is intending to take no further action against Sir Philip Green.

A spokesperson for the Insolvency Service said:

“We can confirm the Insolvency Service has written to Dominic Chappell and three other former directors of BHS and connected companies informing them that we intend to bring proceedings to have them disqualified from running or controlling companies for periods up to 15 years.

We can also confirm that we have written to Sir Philip Green, also a former director of BHS, informing him that we do not currently intend bring disqualification proceedings against him. As this matter may now be tested in the Court it is not appropriate to comment further”.

Dominic Chappell’s Found Guilty of Failing to Provide Documents to the Pensions Watchdog

Dominic Chappell, the former owner of BHS, has been found guilty of failing to provide documents to the Pensions Watchdog. William Ashworth, the judge in the case, said that Chappell was “not credible” in his evidence and he could now be subject to a large fine.

Chappell rejected the court’s decision, saying in a statement:

“As you can imagine, I’m extremely disappointed and annoyed about the outcome. It’s not the one we were looking for. I’ve instructed my legal team to put in an immediate application for an appeal on this case. We feel that this case has not been treated fairly and we will look deeply into this”.

BHS went bankrupt under Chappell’s ownership and 11,000 jobs were lost throughout the country. There were a number of serious allegations made against Dominic Chappell, but his defence lawyer said that he has been made a “scapegoat”.

MPs Publish Devastating Report on Sir Philip Green

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Sir Philip Green is facing renewed calls to give up his knighthood, or be stripped of it, after a devastating report on his behaviour and integrity by a select committee of MPs.

The report, which has left Green fighting for his reputation, was damning about his behaviour. The report concluded:

“The evidence we have received over the course of this inquiry has at times resembled a circular firing squad. Witnesses appeared to harbour the misconception that they could be absolved from responsibility by blaming others. The worst example was Sir Philip Green, despite his protestations to the contrary. Sir Philip adopted a scattergun approach, liberally firing blame to all angles except his own, though he began his evidence by saying he would do the opposite. The truth is that a large proportion of those who have got rich or richer off the back of BHS are to blame. Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on are all culpable. The tragedy is that those who have lost out are the ordinary employees and pensioners. This is the unacceptable face of capitalism”.

Green, who led BHS into collapse with the loss of thousands of jobs, was accused of driving the deal to sell the company cheaply. The report said:

“Sir Philip Green drove the deal forward. He sought to sell a chain that had become a financial millstone and threatened his reputation. He knew that Dominic Chappell was a wholly unsuitable purchaser but overlooked or made good each of Chappell’s shortcomings and proceeded with a rushed sale regardless”.

MPs also queried whether Green should have ever been given a knighthood following his behaviour when in charge of BHS, saying:

“The Green family benefited significantly from BHS. In his early years of ownership, Sir Philip cut costs, sold assets and paid substantial dividends offshore to the ultimate benefit of his wife. He failed, however, to invest sufficiently in stores or reinvent the business to beat the prevailing high street competition. We found little evidence to support the reputation for retail business acumen for which he received his knighthood”.

Frank Field, who was the co-chairman of the inquiry said that Sir Philip Green needed to pay a sum of at least £571 million to restore the NHS pension fund. Speaking to BBC Radio, Frank Field said that he felt that Green had acted in a worse manner than Robert Maxwell. Field said:

“I’ve always thought Maxwell meant to pay the money back, he was just going all over the place borrowing money to keep his companies going. When the music stopped he had no money. Sir Philip Green has a huge amount of money – unlike Robert Maxwell – if he wishes now to make good the pension deficit to those 22,000 pensioners he could do it. He keeps talking about it, but doesn’t do it. He just needs to get his chequebook out and start writing a cheque to cover the huge pension deficit. He has wealth beyond the dreams of avarice and should act”.

A spokesman for Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said:

“This case shows why the government is determined to tackle corporate irresponsibility and reform capitalism so it works for everyone – not just the privileged few. Today’s report is very concerning, and the Insolvency Service is now carrying out an accelerated investigation. Jobcentres are also standing by to provide support and advice to those who were affected. But in the long run we need to do more to prevent this kind of irresponsible and reckless behaviour”.

Green has yet to respond to the report, but he had already promised money to help cover the pension fund liabilities.

Sir Philip Green, Former Owner of the Failed BHS Company, Demands the Resignation of Frank Field

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Sir Philip Green, the former owner of BHS, has called on Frank Field to resign from his position as the chairman of the Work and Pensions select committee. BHS collapsed with the loss of over 11,000 jobs and questions have been asked about Green’s involvement in the process.

Green said:

“I am not prepared to participate in a process which has not even the pretence of fairness and objectivity and which has as its primary objective the destruction of my reputation”.

Field said that he hadn’t received a letter from Green but said:

“The House of Commons decides who chairs these committees, not Sir Philip Green. It’s in his interest to turn up”.

The committee has been hearing evidence from the former management of BHS, where senior managers admitted that there was serious division at the top of the organisation. The committee is likely to ask Green about why his organisation took money out of the business whilst the pensions deficit was growing in size.

BHS Placed Into Administration with 11,000 Jobs at Risk

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The UK department store BHS is to be placed into liquidation after no viable buyer was found. 163 BHS shops will close in the next few weeks with 11,000 jobs expected to be lost.

Anna Soubry, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise said:

“Today’s announcement that the administrators have been unable to find a buyer for the business will be devastating news for all those who work at BHS and those in the supply chain. The government stands ready to support workers to find new jobs as quickly as possible.

The Business Secretary has already announced an accelerated Insolvency Service investigation into the activity of former BHS directors. Any issues of misconduct will be taken extremely seriously”.

Sajid Javid Fast-Tracks Investigation into BHS Collapse

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has fast-tracked an investigation into why the retailer BHS collapsed last week.

Javid confirmed that the investigation would cover the actions of both current and past directors to ascertain if their actions caused detriment to creditors of the company.

Javid said in a statement:

“I have asked the Insolvency Service to bring forward its investigation rather than wait 3 months for the administrators to report before launching their inquiry. This investigation will look at the conduct of the directors at the time of insolvency and any individuals who were previously directors. Any issues of misconduct will be taken very seriously”.

Anna Soubry says Government Will Try and Help BHS Staff

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Anna Soubry, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, has said in a Commons statement that the Government will do what it can to help BHS staff.

The administrators confirmed today that the stores would remain open for the moment after fears that the 164 shops would shut. There are 11,000 workers who fear for their jobs and a substantial pension scheme deficit which is in question.

In a statement she said:

“Today – and the last few days of media speculation – as I say have been particularly troubling for BHS’s workers and their families. There is a clear message going out to all staff today, and that is that BHS is still open for business as usual. There are no plans for immediate redundancies or store closures, and that the administrators are looking to sell BHS as a going concern.

If this proves not to be possible, then the Government will obviously stand ready to offer its assistance, including through Jobcentre Plus’ Rapid Response Service, to help people move into new jobs as quickly as possible.

Now there has been a lot of comment and speculation about the BHS pension scheme. It is the fact the pension regulator is investigating a number of concerns and indeed allegations. I understand the BHS scheme is in the early stage of a Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment, during which time the PPF will determine the final funding position of the scheme and whether it should assume responsibility for it”.

Angela Eagle, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, questioned the involvement of Philip Green, the former owner. Eagle said in the Commons:

“BHS staff and the public will understandably want to know whether the former owner who took so many millions of pounds out of the business will have to pay his fair share of the liabilities accrued during his stewardship”.