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Thursday, December 1, 2022

BHS buyer ‘threatened to kill chain’s chief executive’

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The man who bought BHS for £1 from Sir Philip Green threatened to kill the high street chain’s chief executive, a parliamentary hearing has been told, as he was branded a “premier league liar” who had his “fingers in the till”.

The chain’s chief executive Darren Topp alleged that Dominic Chappell issued the death threat when he questioned him over a £1.5 million transfer of BHS money to Sweden.

“If you kick off about it, I’ll come down there and kill you,” Topp claimed Chappell told him.

The explosive claims were made during heated exchanges in front of the Commons Business and Pensions Committee, which is investigating events surrounding the retailer’s collapse.

MPs also heard that Chappell was a “mythomaniac”, a “premier league liar” and a “Sunday pub league retailer”, according to former BHS finance consultant Michael Hitchcock.

Topp added that Chappell’s assurances on buying BHS “unravelled and, rather than putting money in, he had his fingers in the till”.

He claimed Chappell received a £1.8 million payment from the sale of BHS and £7 million from the sale of the retailer’s offices.

Hitchcock said he was forced to change the company’s bank mandate to “stop any chance of money flowing outside of the business”.

However, Chappell chose instead to focus on the role of Sir Philip in the saga, claiming that the Topshop billionaire blocked a rescue attempt from Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley and tipped BHS into administration.

“Mike Ashley was going to save the business, but Sir Philip Green was screaming down the phone, saying he didn’t want to get involved with Mike Ashley,” he said.

He claimed that on hearing of the potential deal, Sir Philip called in a £35 million loan held by his Arcadia group, pushing BHS into administration.

Chappell claimed he did everything in his power to save the firm, including offering Ashley his shares, but his attempts were “rail-roaded” by Sir Philip.

Last week, administrators to the department store chain called time on trying to find a buyer, resulting in the loss of up to 11,000 jobs and leaving behind a £571 million pensions black hole.

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