MPs call for ex-BHS boss to be stripped of knighthood

Sir Philip Green put BHS in the name of his wife.
Sir Philip Green put BHS in the name of his wife.
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MPs have unanimously recommended ex-BHS owner Sir Philip Green be stripped of his knighthood.

The disgraced tycoon was labelled a “billionaire spiv” and compared to Napoleon as MPs from all parties lined-up to criticise his role in BHS’ demise.

They have asked the Honours Forfeiture Committee to ensure Sir Philip’s knighthood is “cancelled and annulled”. MPs yesterday backed the non-binding motion unopposed, meaning no full vote was needed.

The Government also called on Sir Philip to “quickly” remedy the BHS pension scheme deficit, with investigations under way into the conduct of BHS directors and the management of the pension scheme.

BHS went into administration with a £571 million pension scheme deficit and the loss of 11,000 jobs shortly after being sold for £1 to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell.

Iain Wright, chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said BHS is “one of the biggest corporate scandals of modern times”. The Labour MP told the Commons: “He [Sir Philip] took the rings from BHS’s fingers, he beat it black and blue, he starved it of food and water, he put it on life support, and then he wanted credit for keeping it alive.

Labour MP David Winnick questioned how Sir Philip was deemed worthy of a knighthood in 2006, highlighting how the tycoon had put the business in the name of his wife, who lives in Monaco.

He also said: “I see Green as a billionaire spiv, a billionaire spiv who should never have received a knighthood, a billionaire spiv who has shamed British capitalism.”

Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, said “literally nothing happened in BHS or Arcadia without Sir Philip knowing directly” and said the businessman could have solved the problem easily and been of help in building a stronger pensions regime.

Business Minister Margot James warned: “If evidence is uncovered that indicates that any of the directors’ conduct fell below that to be expected then action will be taken.” Tory MP Richard Fuller suggested the retail tycoon had failed “to find his moral compass” in not addressing the store’s pension deficit.

Labour former minister Karen Buck said there have to be wider consequences for the “sake of the reputations of good business” and the Government.