Sir Philip Green today offered an apology to the people who worked at BHS as he answered questions from MPs about the sale and collapse of the company he sold for £1 last year.
He told MPs: “There was certainly no intent to be like this. And I want to apologise to all the BHS people who have been affected. I can’t make everyone happy. Hopefully, we can find some solutions. Nothing is more sad than how this has ended.”
The billionaire says what probably got him into "trouble" is that he had "too strong an emotional tie" to BHS.
Sir Philip owned BHS for 15 years until 2015, when he sold it for £1 to a consortium led by Dominic Chappell, a former racing car driver, who had no retail experience and has been declared bankrupt at least twice. BHS went into administration in late April and is in the process of being wound down, threatening 11,000 jobs.
In the opening exchanges with MPs, Sir Philip was asked about why he chose to base himself in Monaco. It followed a question from Michelle Thomson MP who pointed out that Sir Philip's property operation is based offshore, in Jersey, outside the UK tax jurisdiction.
Sir Philip rejects criticism that he has been involved in some "perfectly legitimate tax avoidance", saying that 30 or 40% of the FTSE is owned by offshore companies. Sir Philip is asked if he accepts that the offshore vehicles of his retail empire makes tracking funds difficult for the Pensions Regulator. "No I don't," he says.
Sir Philip, whose empire includes Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins, had threatened not to give evidence to the MPs on the Business and Work and Pensions committees who are conducting a joint inquiry into BHS's demise and agreed to appear on condition that his wife Tina Green, who lives in Monaco, was not called.
Last week, Sir Philip called for the resignation of Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions committee, saying the Labour MP is biased. In a letter to Field, Sir Philip said: “I am not prepared to participate in a process which has not even the pretence of fairness and objectivity and which has as its primary objective the destruction of my reputation."
Field has called on Sir Philip to cover the £571m deficit in the BHS pension scheme, which affects 20,000 current and former employees.