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Former BHS owner to sue Sir Philip Green in bid to save his reputation

PUBLISHED: 08:49 09 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:49 09 April 2018

Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell plans to sue Sir Philip Green and contest a proposed boardroom ban in a bid to repair his “tarnished reputation” and resurrect his career.

The thrice-bankrupt businessman has lashed out at Insolvency Service plans to stop him from serving as a company director while taking no action against Sir Philip, saying the authority has “not got the guts to go after Green”.

He claims the government agency’s findings were at odds with parliamentary inquiries by business and pension committees that pinned BHS’ collapse on the billionaire tycoon.

Mr Chappell, who bought BHS from Sir Philip for £1 in 2015, said he had notified the agency that he would fight their proceedings, which could see him disqualified from serving as a company director for 15 years.

His rebuke came as he vowed to drag Sir Philip into the courtroom over the demise of the department store chain, and was laying the groundwork for legal action before the summer.

Mr Chappell said he had been “singled out” by the Insolvency Service because “somebody had to take the blame for British Home Stores”.

He said: “I think that it’s outrageous that the Insolvency Service have not got the guts to go after Green.

“My reputation has been severely tarnished throughout this, and I intend to contest the Insolvency Service’s findings.

“There is that old saying ‘British justice: best the money can buy’ - Philip has bought his way out of the situation.

“He has paid around £350m (into the BHS pension fund), which is half of the money he took out of British Home Stores.

“This is a fight the Insolvency Service do not want to take against Philip Green.

“Philip Green has got an army of class A lawyers that can just crawl right over this. I am an individual. I have had five major inquiries in the last two years, all asking the same type of questions in different ways.”

The Insolvency Service announced on Tuesday that it had written to Mr Chappell and three other former BHS directors informing them of their intent to bring proceedings following its investigation into BHS.

While the agency’s response draws a line under the regulatory probes against Sir Philip, Mr Chappell said it was “far from over” for the retail tycoon.

He said: “This matter is far from finished. I have been consulting lawyers with regards to next steps and I am looking at bringing on a full-blown suit against Philip Green.

“If that is the only way that I can prove our position, then that is what I will have to do.

“It is something that we will certainly be looking at pre-summer.”

Mr Chappell was hit in February with a bill of around £10 million by the Pensions Regulator after it launched proceedings to claim back the cash owed to the failed retailer’s pension schemes.

The 51-year-old was convicted in January of failing to give information about BHS’s pension schemes to investigators after it collapsed into administration with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Mr Chappell – a former racing driver – was the director of Retail Acquisitions, the company that acquired BHS from Sir Philip.

BHS collapsed into administration in April 2016, leaving a £571m pension deficit. Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363m towards it to end action against him by the Pensions Regulator.

While Mr Chappell’s main goal is to “unpick the allegations made against him”, he is also exploring options for reviving his career, with opportunities in oil and gas, construction and retail on the table.

Sir Philip Green and The Insolvency Service declined to comment.

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