Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green has accused Frank Field MP of turning a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of the high street chain into a “kangaroo court”.
In a strongly-worded letter to the MP, who is chairman of the work and pensions select committee, Sir Philip restated he had not broken any laws and said the MP had tried to create a “false narrative”.
He added there had been “real progress” with the Pensions Regulator towards a solution to the BHS pension fund, but stressed he was under “no legal liability”.
Sir Philip is facing mounting pressure to be stripped of his knighthood and to rectify the black hole in the fund after an excoriating joint report by two Commons select committees.
The two committees – work and pensions, and business, innovation and skills – have accused Sir Philip of seeking to blame anyone but himself for the firm’s failure.
The letter comes after Mr Field gave a radio interview on Saturday in which he said he had “mis-read” the retail magnate and suggested “why the hell doesn’t he just sign the cheque?”
Sir Philip’s letter runs to more than 650 words. In it he said: “I have tried to stay silent in the face of your regular outbursts and to focus on the important task of working towards a solution for the BHS pensioners. But I am not prepared to continue to allow your abuse to go unanswered.
“Even before the parliamentary inquiry started hearing from witnesses, you turned it into little more than a kangaroo court, with your constant press campaign barracking and insulting me and my family and your announcement from day one that the predetermined result of the inquiry was that I either sign a large cheque or lose my knighthood.
“Much as you would love to, you cannot point to any rules or laws that I have broken. Because I have broken none. You hide behind parliamentary privilege by publicly traducing me and my family in select committee hearings with allegations of theft. Your repeated attempts to lead the public into thinking that it is simply a matter of me writing a cheque are utterly disingenuous.”
The latest twist comes after lawyers acting for Sir Philip wrote to Mr Field over his comments in a BBC Radio 4 Today programme interview.
In it, Mr Field said Sir Philip is “much worse” than media mogul Robert Maxwell, who raided the pension pot of the Mirror Group newspaper business in the 1980s.
Mr Field described Sir Philip as a “Napoleon figure” floating around on his yacht, having “orchestrated” an “old-fashioned classical asset-stripping” which has put the jobs of 11,000 BHS workers at risk and left 22,000 pensioners with a risky future.
In his letter, Sir Philip said “defamatory remarks” by Mr Field put a solution “at risk”.