MPs are calling for Sir Philip Green to “write a very large cheque” to cover the BHS pension deficit and pushing for more regulation for private companies, following the joint select committee report into the chain’s collapse, published today.
“I’m gobsmacked by some of the things we found out [during the inquiry] and the thing that strikes me is what a fraud the whole thing was,” said Frank Field, chair of the work and pension committee, which co-authored the report.
“[Green] is not a retailer. Guy Weston, Lord Wolfson of Primark and Next are retailers – this guy is an asset stripper.”
On the subject of Green’s knighthood, Field said: “I would think his only chance of keeping it would be to write a very large cheque, somewhere in the region of £700m.”
He called the 66-page report into BHS “just the start”. He intends to visit the business secretary, Greg Clark, with Iain Wright, chair of the business, innovation and skills committee, and then take their findings to new prime minister Theresa May.
He believes they will be “pushing against an open door” with May, who has said she will not tolerate irresponsible corporate behaviour.
“It couldn’t be a better time. We’ve done the easy bit – of course we had to listen to weeks of evidence and read piles of papers, but now we want to see some action,” Field told Drapers.
He added that he will push for more regulation and control over private companies, which employ large numbers of people like BHS: “I’m not talking about excessive regulation for small firms and start-ups but these types of companies that are responsible for the welfare of tens of thousands of people need to be controlled more.”
A spokesman for Green did not provide a comment.