Sir Philip Green has paid £363m to a stricken pension fund left insolvent by the collapse of BHS.
The payment follows months of bitter recriminations following the demise of the department store chain, one of the most contentious British corporate failures in years.
BHS went into insolvency after Sir Philip sold it for £1 to Dominic Chappell, an ex-bankrupt who has acknowledged receiving £4.1m in salary, bonuses, fees and loans during his chaotic 13-month spell in charge,A parliamentary investigation said last year that the failure of BHS was “the unacceptable face of capitalism”. MPs had called for the Topshop tycoon to be stripped of his knighthood, branding him a “billionaire spiv” who was “not particularly good at retail”.
The billionaire stated on Tuesday that the Pension Regulator was “satisfied” with the deal and had abandoned legal proceedings aimed at securing a compulsory payment.
Once again I would like to apologise to the BHS pensioners for this last year of uncertainty, which was clearly never the intention when the business was sold in March 2015.
I am also happy to confirm that any of the pensioners that have faced cuts over the last year will now be brought back to their original BHS starting level pension and will all be made whole.
I hope that this solution puts their minds at rest and closes this sorry chapter for them.
Frank Field, the work and pensions committee chair who has been Sir Philip’s most vocal parliamentary opponent, told the Financial Times last year that Sir Philip should pay £571m to the pension scheme or be stripped of his gong. But the FT reported in August that regulators had settled on a figure of about £350m.
Mr Field said on Tuesday: “I very much welcome this out-of-court settlement which is an important milestone in gaining the justice for BHS pensioners and former workers that we have been pushing for since beginning our inquiry into the downfall of BHS.”
Don Foster, the Lib Dem business spokesman, said the tycoon had only offered to hand over the money after intense public pressure.
“This is good but when he says it was voluntary it has only been after an enormous amount of public pressure and from the pension regulator,” he said. “While I welcome it and it is better late than never, this is not how it should have been done and I don’t think it exonerates him.”