A leading MP investigating the collapse of BHS has criticised Sir Philip Green for his response to journalists’ questions as he boarded his yacht amid widespread criticism for leaving the retail chain’s pensioners out of pocket while enjoying a lavish holiday.
Iain Wright, Labour MP and co-chairman of the parliamentary select committee that questioned Green two months ago, said there was a stark contrast between the wealth of the former BHS owner and the position in which thousands of pensioners and shop workers found themselves in.
“We see footage of him on a yacht, the third yacht that he owns … People will be losing their jobs at BHS this weekend. There will be people who have worked long and hard for many years at BHS, who, given the strain and stresses over the past few months would love a holiday. But because they face redundancy or because they face a reduction in their pension entitlements, they won’t be able to have a holiday this year,” he said.
“The contrast between what he’s been able to achieve with his money, and what the pensioners will have, is very striking.”
Wright said there had been frustratingly little progress since Green appeared in front of MPs two months ago, but vowed to maintain public pressure on the tycoon.
“We don’t want this story to go away.”
Green was involved in a heated clash with a television news team when they tried to question him about the collapse of BHS on Wednesday.
Sky News said the businessman lunged at the camera before being heard to say “That’s going to go in the fucking sea” when confronted by reporter David Bowden on the Greek island of Ithaca.
As the TV crew approached him on the harbourside, close to where his £100m superyacht Lionheart was moored, he told them: “I’m going to call the police if you don’t go away.”
Bowden had been attempting to ask him why he was holidaying in luxury as the last BHS high street stores closed down leaving workers facing an enormous pension deficit.
Dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, Green was shown saying: “Will you go away? Which bit are you not understanding? Go away.”
He then moved close to the camera. Bowden reported that the men later “calmly” shook hands. Green has borne the brunt of the public fallout from the collapse of BHS, with caused the loss of 11,000 jobs.
MPs branded him “the unacceptable face of capitalism” in a scathing review of the high street disaster amid calls for him to lose his knighthood.
Green, whose Arcadia empire includes Topshop, owned BHS for 15 years before selling it to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015.
Green took more than £400m in dividends from the department store chain, and left it with a £571m pension deficit.
The administrators have already overseen 106 store closures over recent weeks, with the latest being BHS’s flagship Oxford Street outlet.
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