Martin Flanagan: Humiliation for BHS ‘spiv’ Philip Green

MPs backed a motion to have Sir Philip Green stripped of his knighthood. Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
MPs backed a motion to have Sir Philip Green stripped of his knighthood. Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
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Well, that’s ramped up the pressure on Sir Philip Green in the BHS scandal.

It doesn’t get much heavier and more humiliating than a unanimous recommendation of MPs that the Honours Forfeiture Committee strip Green of his knighthood.

It would be all but amazing if he escapes with his much-prized knighthood

Martin Flanagan

The unprecedented decision in the Commons is non-binding, but the mood music is so cacophonously anti-Green now it would be all but amazing if he escapes with his much-prized knighthood without putting right the massive pension deficit at the retailer.

It is the minimum requirement and looking totally non-negotiable in the court of public opinion. Green and his family left the company with a £571 million pension deficit, triggering likely slashed pensions for 20,000 BHS pension scheme members, after taking £40m in dividends out of the company and selling it on to a serial bankrupt for £1.

READ MORE: Calls for Sir Philip Green to lose title over BHS collapse

The language yesterday, protected by parliamentary privilege, was ripe. “Billionaire spiv”, “personal fiefdoms”, “traditional asset stripper” and “one of the biggest corporate scandals of modern times” give a flavour of it.

Things can only be said to have deteriorated stunningly since Green was telling MPs earlier this summer that he deeply regretted what had happened at BHS, but that he would “sort it”.

Assurances have been regular, but a tangible and credible financial offer from the billionaire has been notably absent, even if Green is still talking to the Pension Regulator.

Meanwhile, earlier this week the mogul was hitting out via his holding company Taveta at “highly defamatory and false statements” by Labour MP Frank Field, chairman of the work and pensions committee. Dialogue of the deaf.

I would have thought Green would have acted more quickly over the summer with the only language MPs and the public will find acceptable – the language of the big cheque as expiation.

He is in danger now even if he delivers of appearing to have a moral response to the tawdry morass dragged out of him rather than given willingly.

Yesterday’s parliamentary vitriol and recommendation should not have surprised him, but it probably still shocked him.

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