BHS chief executive Darren Topp has told the work and pensions select committee that Retail Acquisitions boss Dominic Chappell threatened to kill him after Topp called him a thief for “stealing” £1.5m from the retailer.
The parliamentary committee into the collapse of BHS continued today (June 8) with a session that heard from the BHS management team.
Topp told MPs Chappell took £1.5m out of the department store chain during the company voluntary arrangement (CVA) process and put it into an account called BHS Sweden.
Topp said he told Chappell the action was theft as the money was intended to pay staff salaries. He said Chappell told him not to “kick off” and that he would do what he wanted to do with the money, as it was his company. Chappell told Topp the money was for his “home team”, or Retail Acquisitions.
Topp told the MPs Chappell then threatened to kill him.
“I told him it was unacceptable and he had to put it back”, said Topp. “We had a board meeting two days later and he proposed to remove me and Dominic Chandler [BHS director] from the board. The motion didn’t go through but he put the money back in minus £50,000, which he said was associated with fees.”
He added: “It was the worst thing to do. That money was for people who work in our stores and are paid £7 an hour, they aren’t people on big salaries.”
Topp told the committee Chappell was on a boat in the Bahamas last week when the BHS board told staff the administrators had not found a buyer for the business. “It was unacceptable that he wasn’t there. When I spoke to 1,000 staff last week to say the business hadn’t found a buyer it was the saddest day of my career.”
Chappell will give evidence to the committee later this morning.
- Update: Chappell later denied he had threatened to kill Darren Topp, calling it “absolute rubbish”.