Six things of interest we learned about Sir Philip Green


Sir Philip Green has been giving evidence to the Business and Pensions Committees about the collapse of BHS.

Here are five things MPs learned about the retail tycoon.

1. Sir Philip is sorry

An administration notice in the window of a BHS store
(Yui Mok/PA)

While some had their doubts that Sir Philip would even turn up to the committee meeting, he was quick out of the blocks when it came to an apology.

He rubbished criticisms in newspapers over his handling of BHS, stating: "The thing that actually got me into trouble was having a too strong an emotional tie to the people and the business."

And extending the olive branch to those who were employed by the BHS, he said "nothing is more sad than how this has ended and I hope during the morning you will hear that there was no intent on my part for anything to be like this and didn't need to be like this."

He added finally: "I just want to apologise to all the BHS people who are involved in this."

2. Don't give Sir Philip the "death stare"

Conservative MP Richard Fuller

Sir Philip's exchanges with MPs were a roller-coaster ride laced with tension. At one stage Sir Philip was branded "thin-skinned" by Iain Wright MP as he shirked some questions and argued the finer details of others.

However, Sir Philip appeared most rattled during an extraordinary exchange with Richard Fuller MP who he sharply rebuked for "staring" at him.

Sir Philip said: "Sir, do you mind not looking at me like that all the time, it's really disturbing. You just want to stare at me, it's uncomfortable.

Fuller replied: "I don't wish to make you feel uncomfortable Sir Philip."

Attempts were later made by Fuller to ease the pressure, adding: "I think it is another parliamentary colleague that is known for his death stare.

"I am sorry if I unnerved you but I learnt from my previous career in business and also in politics that if you are doing something important you should look someone straight in the eye."

Sir Philip replied: "Now we are talking we can look at each other."

3. Sir Philip is bullish

Sir Philip Green gives evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and Work and Pensions Committee

The committee struggled to stop Sir Philip from calling the shots, while at times the exchanges bordered on farce as they tried to pull Sir Philip back towards their line of questioning.

On one occasion Fuller interrupted Jeremy Quin MP to defend him against Sir Philip. He said: "You have complained about Mr Quin putting his glasses on or off, and you have complained about how questions are put to you."

Sir Philip tried to interrupt, saying "I was having a joke with him, lighten up," before Fuller finished with the question "Is that your usual pattern of behaviour, particularly with your directors?

Sir Philip tried to brush the question aside: "Shall we carry on?"

Iain Wright MP added: "You don't want to answer?

Sir Philip replied: "I am choosing to carry on with your colleague."

Wright said: "That is a very significant answer, that you don't chose to answer."

4. Sir Philip could still come to the rescue

Sir Philip Green gives evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and Work and Pensions Committee

Questions over whether Sir Philip would make further attempts to plug the gaping hole in the BHS pension scheme were answered - in a sense.

Sir Philip used the committee meeting as a stage to announce that talks had sparked into life between himself and The Pensions Regulator and there was "a light in the tunnel".

He added: "We want to find a solution for the 20,000 pensioners. We still believe that money into the PPF does not resolve it. The schemes are quite complex, but from what I've seen I would say its resolvable, its sortable, we will sort it, we will find a solution and I want to give my assurances to the 20,0000 pensioners that I am here to sort this."

However, MPs appeared to miss one crucial question: how much money is Sir Philip willing to put in now?

5. Sir Philip does not do email

Sir Philip Green gives evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and Work and Pensions Committee

MPs on the committee have spent weeks sifting through correspondence between the many players in the sorry tale of BHS. However, Sir Philip pointed out that, on some occasions, emails from him would be few and far between.

Asked whether he was happy with the "service" he received from bank Goldman Sachs, which was said to be operating as a so-called "gatekeeper" when vetting potential buyers for BHS, Sir Philip replied: "I did not have one meeting with Goldman Sachs".

"As we will see there's no email traffic with Philip Green because I try to avoid email, so I don't get into trouble with you guys turning up all these bits of paper."

"I still sort of play around with that," he added, brandishing an ageing Nokia 6310 mobile phone, stating: "So I don't get into trouble."

At one point in the meeting Sir Philip's phone began to ring, with Wright joking: "It's the regulator."

Sir Philip laughed: "It might be, shall I find out?"

6. Sir Philip struggles to pour glasses of water

While being grilled by MPs, Sir Philip faced a more difficult opponent in the form of a jug of water and a plastic cup.

Sir Philip proved pouring yourself a simple beverage may be easier said than done, after completely missing his glass and spilling water all over the table.

Thankfully for him nobody in the room seemed to bat an eyelid at the blunder, allowing him to leave with his ego in tact. Well, sort of.