Pensions committee chair hits back at Sir Philip Green criticism: "Parliament doesn't elect Trappist monks"

 
William Turvill
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Sir Philip Green has demanded Frank Field MP (left) resign from chairing the BHS inquiry (Source: Getty)

The chair of the Work and Pensions Committee has defended his comments about Sir Philip Green and declined to resign from the BHS inquiry.

The former BHS owner last night accused Frank Field MP of having a "bias against me" and demanded that he step away from the inquiry, which Green is due to appear before next Wednesday.

Read more: Sir Philip Green demands "biased" committee chair resign from BHS inquiry

Field told City A.M. he would not be standing down. "Parliament decides who the chairman of a committee is, and I expect Sir Philip to turn up on Wednesday," he said.

"He just thinks he can always get his way, doesn't he? He's up against parliament this time. And parliament is massively concerned with behaviour that has led to the... threat and possible loss of 11,000 jobs. And the long-term proper security of 20,000 people's pensions. And they think it's a serious issue – as it is."

Field also denied having a bias against Green.

He said: "I'm merely listening to and asking for evidence and will be asking questions on documents that we've received, documents that we've read and analysed and the statements of his associates that have already been before us."

Read more: BHS collapse: Sir Philip Green set to appear before MPs next week

Green wrote to Field to register his unhappiness after the MP said in an interview that his committee would "laugh" at the retail billionaire if he offered less than £600m to settle BHS' pension debts.

And Field today stood by his comments, telling City A.M.: "As this has gone on, as in the country so in the committee, people's views have hardened.

"If he'd have come and settled it right at the beginning, the whole thing would have blown over. It is now immensely serious allegations have actually been put before us."

He added: "I know he's had a whole team of people working away on what minimum figure he can come up with – we're not in that ball game any more."

Field also defended his speaking to the media about Green, saying: "Parliament doesn't elect Trappist monks. It elects people to represent them and both listen and to lead debate."

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