- Parliament TV/Handout via REUTERS
- Former BHS owner Philip Green calls MPs who tried to remove his knighthood “a complete bunch of old w*****s.”
- Selling BHS to Dominic Chappell was the worst mistake of my life, he said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
- Green denied any responsibility for the collapse of BHS.
Sir Philip Green called a group of MPs who debated removing his knighthood during the BHS affair “a complete bunch of old w*****s,” in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
Speaking for the first time since the scandal, which saw high street retailer BHS collapse with a pension deficit of more than £500 million, Green was asked if he ever thought he might lose his knighthood as a result.
“I’m not going there. Why should I?” – he replied.
“Excuse me, by a complete bunch of old w*****s,” he added, when the interviewer pointed out that a motion to do so had been discussed in parliament.
The billionaire businessman and Topshop owner, known for his aggressive personality and business style, also spoke out against Labour MP Frank Field, the man who chaired the Parliamentary inquiry into the BHS pension scandal.
Green said Field has a personal vendetta against him and described the MP as being “on a rampage” during the inquiry.
The Arcadia owner admitted that selling BHS to businessman Dominic Chappell for just £1 was the worst mistake of his life, and said that attacks which have been levelled against him are a result of jealousy of his wealth and success.
“I feel like I’ve got to justify I had the ability to pay, that my family has got a yacht, that I’m living a nice lifestyle,” Green said.
“There is nothing you are ever going to say to somebody that is going to make them feel better that you’re rich and they’re poor.”
In the months after the scandal, Green became a recluse and felt unable even to visit his Topshop stores in person, also hiring a bodyguard for his wife whenever she visited London.
The debacle had a “big impact on myself and the family” Green said, adding “It was horrible, being accused of something, fundamentally of being dishonest. It is devastating. I don’t go anywhere.”
In 2016, Green’s Arcadia Group sold BHS for £1 to Retail Acquisitions, a vehicle headed by twice bankrupt former racing driver Dominic Chappell who had no former retail experience.
Within a year the company collapsed with debts of roughly £1.3 billion pounds in debt, a large pension deficit and thousands of job losses.
The businessman played down the stress of the event, but told the Mail on Sunday that he had a heart operation only five days before appearing in front of the intensive parliamentary inquiry.
Despite the impact of the event, when asked about how much the blame he deserves, Green replied: “Zero. Nothing.”
“We didn’t go as a vulture and bankrupt it, try to keep it all to ourselves. That was the stupidity. Trying to do it the correct way turned out to be a disaster.”