Sir Philip Green has threatened to sue Labour MP Frank Field for libel after he compared the former BHS boss to Napoleon and Robert Maxwell on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday.
Field said in the interview: “Moneys beyond the dreams of avarice have gone up to the Green family and 11,000 workers are now going to hit the dole queues, 20,000 workers are actually suffering cuts…”
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Green does not appear to be suing the BBC or the many other outlets which repeated the comments made by Field.
Field yesterday received a letter from Green’s lawyers, Schillings, giving him 24 hours to apologise or else face court proceedings.
Field told Sky News: “I don’t know how that will run, but it adds to the gaiety of life doesn’t it?”
He told the BBC the threat was “displacement therapy” and said Green instead needed to “write a big cheque” to fill the shortfall in staff pensions.
Field’s comments went further than the report by MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee looking at the collapse of BHS published on Monday.
It said: “Sir Philip Green’s family accrued incredible wealth during the early, profitable years of BHS ownership. Over the duration of their tenure, significantly more money left the company than was invested in it.
“When Sir Philip Green bought BHS, the pension schemes for which he became responsible were in surplus. As these schemes declined into substantial and unsustainable deficit he and his directors repeatedly resisted requests from trustees for higher contributions. Such contributions were not charitable donations: they were the means of the employer meeting its obligations for deferred pay.
“We reject any assertion that Sir Philip was not aware of the growth of the deficit: he had a responsibility to be aware and he was aware. That there is a massive deficit is ultimately Sir Philip Green’s responsibility.”