MPs are to decide tomorrow whether former BHS boss Sir Philip Green should be called in for questioning over the demise of the iconic high street name and its towering £571m pension deficit.
BHS entered administration yesterday with debts of £1.3bn. The pension liabilities have been passed onto the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) – which is funded by a levy on other companies – as a result.
Frank Field MP, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said today: "We need as a committee to look at the Pension Protection Fund and how the receipt of pension liabilities of BHS will impact on the increases in the levy that will now be placed on all other eligible employers to finance the scheme.
"We will then need to judge whether the law is strong enough to protect future pensioners’ contracts in occupational schemes"
"I’m sure he’ll be invited," Field added. Sources said there was confidence other committee members would agree.
A spokeswoman for the committee told City A.M. that no decision had been made on the matter, but the committee would be convening tomorrow morning ahead of its public meeting with Ros Altmann, where the subject would most likely be discussed.
Pressure began mounting on Green yesterday, when MPs called on the Arcadia boss to be hauled over the coals for the demise of the retailer.
Tory MP Richard Fuller told the House of Commons: “If that sale [in 2015] was done on the understanding that [Green] was avoiding a responsibility for those pension losses, then that £1 was equivalent to 30 pieces of silver and is a betrayal of the employees and pensioners at BHS.”
Last year Green sold BHS to a consortium called Retail Acquisitions, which is headed by twice-bankrupt Dominic Chappell, a former racing car driver. The company, which has 164 stores, will continue to trade while a buyer is sought by administrators at Duff & Phelps.
If he is invited – or even summoned – there's no suggestion Green could be forced to appear.
Fellow retailer Mike Ashley has thus far avoided all attempts to have him give evidence in front of MPs over his handling of last year's USC administration and working conditions in his Shirebrook HQ.
Fashion chain USC entered administration on 9 January, but just over a week later it was bought out by another Ashley venture, Republic.
MPs said as early as February that they wanted to hear from Ashley, but so far have only managed to secure evidence from chairman Keith Hellawell during a toe-curling session in which Sports Direct was dubbed a "back street operation".
Reports suggest the Sports Direct boss is ready to "set the record straight" – but so far he has been a no-show.