BHS select committee: The six best moments from today's hearing featuring the former senior team, Retail Acquisition's management and ex-owner Dominic Chappell

 
Caitlin Morrison
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Dominic Chappell appeared before MPs today

MPs embarked on a marathon evidence session over the collapse of BHS this morning - and it featured death threats, yachts, and countless other incredible revelations.

In case you had other things to do during the four-and-a-half hour hearing, we've put together a list of the best moments from an extraordinary select committee session.

BHS: What you need to know

1. The death threat

The retailer's former chief executive Darren Topp told the committee that ex-owner Dominic Chappell moved £1.5m out of BHS and into a company called BHS Sweden.

When Topp made enquiries about why this sum was moved, he said Chappell threatened him, saying: "If you kick off about this, I'm going to come down there and kill you."

Topp said he "knew [Chappell] had a gun", and told Chappell not to threaten him again.

2. The (alleged) lies

​Michael Hitchcock, ex-financial adviser to BHS, said Chappell was a "Premier League liar and a Sunday league retailer, at best".

"If someone stands up in front of you and says I'll put £10m into this business and says they'll hire a property expert... if you don't deliver on that, you're a liar," he added.

Meanwhile, Topp said Chappell had described himself as a ‘turnaround expert’.

"He said he had turned around an oil company," the former BHS boss said. "I took it at face value. I’ve subsequently read in the press that perhaps it’s not true."

Topp also said that over time it became clear that, rather than Chappell putting his own money into the company as he said he was doing: "He had his fingers in the till."

3. The yacht and the... surgery

BHS' previous management said Chappell was on his boat in the Bahamas the day that the administration was announced, having previously said he was going to be "having an eye operation in the US".

Chappell said he was indeed having eye surgery, but then went to the Bahamas for business meetings.

4. The Sports Direct saviour deal

Mike Ashley confirmed in his own select committee appearance yesterday that he very much wanted to buy BHS, and Chappell said today that the Sports Direct boss was ready and willing to do a deal. However, former BHS owner and retail tycoon Sir Philip Green went "insane" when Ashley's name was put forward, according to Chappell, who said Green "railroaded" the rescue attempt. Green "genuinely thought" that BHS would fail, he said.

Chappell also said that at one point Retail Acquisitions had been interested in buying Austin Reed, which also recently failed.

5. The loans

Chappell took a short-term personal loan of £150,000 out of the business in order to pay a tax bill, he told the committee. In addition, the Retail Acquisitions board approved a loan for the purposes of remortgaging Chappell's father's home - although Chappell was one of only two board members who voted to allow the loan.

The MPs questions about the loans elicited a snappy response from Chappell, who said they were trying to focus on a "sideshow".

6. The "apology"

Chappell did eventually apologise for his part in BHS' collapse - after a fashion. When asked by SNP MP Michelle Thomson what he would have done differently, the former racing driver said: "We should have spent more time dealing with the pension prior to the acquisition."

He then said he was "upset" about the outcome for BHS' 11,000 workers, and when Thomson asked if he meant that as an apology, replied in the affirmative.

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