LONDON — Sir Philip Green has written a second letter to British MP Frank Field, chair of parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee, saying he may not give evidence on Wednesday unless certain conditions are met.
Green is due to appear on Wednesday before a joint parliamentary committee that’s investigating the collapse of BHS, the retailer Green sold for 1 pound, or $1.50, last year.
The committee is also looking into a 571 million pound, or $822 million, hole in the BHS pension fund.
The session would be the first opportunity for Green to answer questions about the failure of BHS and the pension deficit. Up to 11,000 jobs will be lost as a result of the retailer’s collapse.
As part of its ongoing investigation, the committee has already heard from a variety of witnesses, including Green’s colleagues at Arcadia Group; the last owner of BHS, Dominic Chappell, and the retailer’s top management.
Green sent his latest letter to Field late Friday, noting that he had never received a response to an earlier missive in which he had asked Field to “cease the trial by media and conduct your inquiry in a manner that is fair to all involved.”
Green added: “Instead, without even waiting for next week’s oral evidence session, you have used your position as chair of the Work and Pensions Committee to do your very best to destroy my reputation.”
Green pointed to disparaging statements that Field made to The Financial Times on Friday: “Your bias against me and lack of any interest in a fair process are demonstrated clearly by [those] statements,” Green wrote.
The retailer added that he was “not prepared to participate in a process which has not even the pretense of fairness and objectivity and which has as its primary objective the destruction of my reputation.” He asked once again that Field resign immediately from the inquiry.
“You are not the Pensions Regulator and you have no power over the Pensions Regulator. Your continued participation in the inquiry will serve only to obstruct a resolution. I await your urgent response so as not to disrupt next week’s evidence session,” the letter said.
The parliamentary probe is one of five investigations into the collapse of BHS and the hole in its pension fund.
Two U.K. parliamentary committees are looking into the matter, while the U.K. Pensions Regulator is examining whether Green, and members of the consortium that purchased BHS from him, should be forced to put more money into the retailer’s pension fund.
The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, the government body that investigates and prosecutes serious and complex fraud, bribery and corruption, has also gotten involved in the case while Britain’s business secretary Sajid Javid has begun looking into the matter.
On June 2, the BHS administrators said they were unable to find a buyer for the business, and as a result would begin winding it down.
“Although multiple offers were received, none were able to complete a deal due to the working capital required to secure the future of the company,” they said. “The British high street is changing and in these turbulent times for retailers, BHS has fallen as another victim of the seismic shifts we are seeing.”