MPs put the boot in to Phillip Green: Five furious attacks on the ex-BHS boss
The disgraced tycoon now looks set to be stripped of his knighthood.
MPs have unanimously backed a call for former BHS owner Sir Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood.
The Honours Forfeiture Committee will now make the final call, after a lengthy three-hour debate in the Commons during which the disgraced tycoon was attacked from all sides.
Not every MP present approved of the debate. Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg argued that it was an abuse of the House of Commons "to be debating something that may lead to a penalty for someone without any proper judicial process".
But most MPs did not hold back - with five parliamentarians launching particularly strident criticisms.
Iain Wright: Green took the rings from BHS’s fingers
Business select committee chairman Iain Wright put in a strong bid for best speech of the debate as he launched a blistering address, accusing Green of beating up BHS and putting the firm on life support.
“[Green] can’t be described as a short-term corporate raider. But he did raid the company, and his ability to do so meant that he was then in a financial position to be able to obtain the debt to acquire Arcadia and, through the same modus operandi, pay his family the biggest dividend in corporate history.
“He took the rings from BHS’s fingers, beat it black and blue, starved it of food and water, put it on life support. And then he wanted credit for keeping it alive!”
He also said that despite getting a knighthood for services to retail, Green was not even a very good retailer:
“True, he was able, in the early days, of sniffing out a corporate bargain and cutting costs to boost profit. There is nothing wrong with that, but he did not boost BHS’s turnover during his period of ownership, he lost market share to more nimble, or even not-so-nimble competitors, and he failed to anticipate the online retail revolution.”
Frank Field: Green is like Napoleon
Work and pensions committee chairman Frank Field described the collapse of BHS as "a sad, slowly unfolding Greek tragedy".
Undeterred by a legal letter hours before the debate, he compared the disgraced retail boss as a Napoleon-like figure: "In my mind's eye this was a character most like the Napoleon I read about in history books when I was at school."
Later in the debate, he added: "Despite all the razzmatazz and so on, there's nothing the committee could find or evidence that was presented to the committee which shows that Sir Philip Green was king of the high street. He was and is a very successful traditional asset-stripper."
Dennis Skinner: Green is more like Robert Maxwell
Labour veteran Dennis Skinner made the first intervention of the debate, comparing Green to disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell.
“I’ve always thought Sir Philip Green was more of a Maxwell,” he said. “He had the money, he had the yacht, he had the workers, and he robbed them of them of the pensions. I mean, it’s almost a parallel.”
David Winnick: Green is a billionaire spiv
Conservative MP David Winnick cited Green’s tax arrangements and said he did not know how he got a knighthood in the first place.
“[Green is a] billionaire spiv who should never have received a knighthood. A billionaire spiv who has shamed British capitalism.”
Martin Docherty-Hughes: Green and his pals too busy quaffing champagne
SNP politicians were lining up to lay into Green, with Martin Docherty-Hughes leading the charge:
He said: “The professional and dignified manner in which the staff has behaved is something in stark contrast to Mr Green and his dodgy cohort of whammers. Including the trustees, who are culpable in this debacle.
“They should be ashamed of themselves from the manner in which they’ve behaved. But sadly I suspect they’re too busy quaffing champagne and sailing in their yachts and visiting Monaco to give a damn about the mess they’ve created.”
Plus: Clive Lewis and Charlie Elphicke: