Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green has hit out against what he has labelled “unnecessary” and “wholly unwarranted” attacks over the BHS pension deficit.
In a letter to work and pensions committee chair Frank Field, Green said he had been used as a “political football” and accused the Labour MP of “vindictive” behaviour.
Green wrote: “I believe you have an obligation as a select committee chair to understand all the facts and therefore not misrepresent them or make misleading statements.
“I made a commitment to your committee that I would sort the BHS pensions issue. I have done what I said I would do and I have put the pensioners in a considerably better position than they have been in had they stayed in the Pensions Protection Fund [PPF]. This has been confirmed and supported by the regulator.
“I reached a voluntary settlement with the regulator and the PPF, fully supported by the trustees, paying up to £36m in full and final settlement. There is a settlement deed that has been signed by the regulator, the PPF and the trustees. The regulator, PPF and trustees all agreed the level of benefits, investment strategy and funding surplus and I have paid the full amount to achieve that.”
Field has been a vocal critical of Green over the investigation into the BHS deficit. Earlier this month, he labelled the BHS settlement “inadequate” and said Green had not done enough to hold on to his knighthood.
In February, Green agreed to pay £363m to settle the BHS pension scheme and said he hoped the settlement would close the sorry chapter for BHS pensioners.
In response to the latest letter from Green, Field underlined the role of the committee in scrutinising the work of the department of work and pensions and its associated public bodies, of which The Pensions Regulator is one.
“BHS was the largest avoidance case,” wrote Field. “It is incumbent on the committee to examine not just whether the regulator was able to reach settlement with you, but whether that was a good settlement based on the evidence they had, which may act as both a template for other cases and a deterrent to avoidance occurring inn future.”