Soubry says any wrongdoing over sale of BHS will be "taken very seriously" as MPs blast Sir Philip Green for the failure of the store

Helen Cahill
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Sir Philip Green faced heavy criticism from MPs today (Source: Getty)

Anna Soubry, minister for small business, industry and enterprise spoke strongly today in the House of Commons over the sale of BHS, saying any wrongdoing on the part of the directors of the company over its sale will be "taken very seriously."

In a statement to the House of Commons, Soubry said: "Any wrongdoing will be taken very seriously.

"If directors' conduct fell below what is expected, action will be taken.

"An application can be made to the courts to take action against any of the directors to disqualify them from being company directors for two to 15 years if wrongdoing is discovered.

Read more: BHS inquiries have "prompted more questions than answers"

"Nobody could be in any way content with some of the allegations that have been made...and that does damage the reputation of all businesses, and that can't be right either.

"We will not have British business' good name besmirched by other businesses."

Politicians from all sides of the House expressed their outrage at the actions of Sir Philip Green, who sold BHS for £1 to Dominic Chappell, a serial bankrupt.

Read more: Timeline: a blow-by-blow account of how BHS' demise unfolded

Roger Mullin of the SNP said: "If ever there was an unacceptable face of capitalism it comes in the form of Sir Philip Green."

Mullin described the sale of BHS as "scandalous", particularly because Goldman Sachs warned Arcadia bosses that Dominic Chappell was a serial bankrupt, and said that the whole process behind the sale raised questions about how robust the process of due diligence had been.

Conservative MP David Davis described Sir Philip Green's behaviour as "asset stripping" and said that the retail tycoon should pay back the money he took from the company in dividend payments, giving it to employees facing a cut to their pensions.

Davis added: "The problem is that much of this was legal, and that puts a moral responsibility on the governments that have allowed to make this action legal."

Labour MP Jim McMahon called for Green's knighthood to be removed, saying: "For the people in my constituency where a store is likely to close they will not see justice in their eyes until there is someone in the dock facing trial.

Read more: Evidence on BHS is pretty poor, says BIS committee chairman

"Sir Philip Green is not fit to lick the boots of these people, let alone be a knight of the realm. Will she [Soubry] support me in having that revoked?"

Labour MP Bill Esterson put it to Soubry that the police should be called in to investigate Green, saying that BHS is an example of "wealth extraction, not wealth creation", adding: "The allegations about what happened to BHS are beyond belief."

He added: "It is not just members on this side of the House that think that Sir Philip Green's actions are a disgrace."

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