MPs set to question BHS directors and advisers

BHS store Image copyright Getty Images

MPs will examine the role that BHS directors and advisers played before the retailer was sold for £1 last year by Sir Philip Green.

It was bought by Retail Acquisitions, a vehicle led by Dominic Chappell, who had no retailing experience and had been declared bankrupt at least twice.

The MPs will also scrutinise the checks carried out on Retail Acquisitions before the deal was completed.

Lord Grabiner, chairman of Sir Philip's empire, will be among those attending.

The barrister and long-time associate of Sir Philip has agreed to attend the joint session of the Commons Business and Work and Pensions select committees on Monday afternoon despite stating he had "no involvement" in the talks that led to the BHS sale. Neither did he attend the board meeting that approved the deal.

Lord Grabiner's cousin, Ian Grabiner, is chief executive of Sir Philip's Arcadia Group, which owns chains including Topshop.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lord Grabiner is among those appearing before MPs on Monday

'Questions to answer'

Business select committee chairman Iain Wright told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there were "real questions to answer" regarding the role of Sir Philip and of the wider Arcadia group, as well as the advice that they received in the run-up to the sale of BHS.

"We've not jumped to any conclusions whatsoever," he said. "We're going to listen very carefully to the answers from our questions and find out what the evidence suggests."

Analysis: Simon Jack, business editor

Get your popcorn, take your seats and settle in for a piece of business theatre with elements of near-farce and tragedy.

In all, 11,000 livelihoods and 20,000 pensions were affected when BHS collapsed with crippling debts. The mudslinging between a colourful cast of characters has only just started.

The opening exchanges between MPs and the pension regulator now give way to the principal cast in the ill-starred sale of BHS for £1 to a relative unknown with a chequered history.

The next few weeks of joint select committee investigations may at times seem like a game of Cluedo.

Was it the former racing driver, twice-bankrupt yacht enthusiast with no retail experience? Was it the straight-talking flamboyant billionaire retail tycoon and his glamorous Monaco-based wife?

Even the bit-players are important - the advisers from a variety of blue-chip firms who managed to combine in a way that effectively vouched for a buyer who many think shouldn't have passed the smell test.

Read Simon Jack's blog in full

BHS: Where as all the money gone?

BHS went into administration last month, putting 164 shops and almost 11,000 jobs at risk.

The firm's pension scheme has been left with a £571m deficit.

During the initial day of hearings, MPs will be focusing on the advice given to Arcadia directors in the run-up to the sale, as well as the role that those directors played in overseeing the decision to sell BHS. Pensions advisers will be among those giving evidence.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green is due to appear before MPs on 15 June

On Wednesday, the committees will question the advisers to Retail Acquisitions Limited, which bought BHS last year, as well as the BHS pension fund trustees.

BHS management, the board of Retail Acquisitions, and its owner, Dominic Chappell, will give evidence on 8 June.

A week later, on 15 June, the MPs will question Sir Philip.

The two committees are holding separate inquiries relating to BHS, but these evidence sessions will be held jointly.

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