'Premier League liar' Dominic Chappell 'threatened to kill BHS chief executive'

The man who bought BHS for £1 from Sir Philip Green threatened to kill the high street chain's chief executive, a parliamentary hearing has been told as he was branded a "premier league liar" who had his "fingers in the till".

Wednesday, 8th June 2016, 10:59 am
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2016, 10:43 am
Michael Hitchcock, former BHS financial adviser, gives evidence to MPs over the retailer's collapse at Portcullis House, London. Picture: Press Association.

Dominic Chappell was a "mythomaniac" and a "Sunday pub league retailer", according to former BHS finance consultant Michael Hitchcock.

He added : "I question his intelligence, he wasn't a retailer. The motive was purely for his own benefit. There is a big smell test which I adopt in a lot of these situations, and it just did not smell right."

BHS. Picture: Press Association.

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The chain's chief executive Darren Topp alleged Mr Chappell threatened to kill him when he questioned him over a £1.5 million transfer of BHS money to Sweden.

"If you kick off about it, I'll come down there and kill you," Mr Topp said Mr Chappell told him.

The explosive claims were made during heated exchanges in front of the Commons Business and Pensions Committees, which are investigating events surrounding the retailer's collapse.

Mr Topp said Mr Chappell's assurances on buying BHS "unravelled and, rather than putting money in, he had his fingers in the till".

BHS. Picture: Press Association.

He claimed Mr Chappell received a £1.8 million payment from the sale of BHS and £7 million from the sale of the retailer's offices.

Mr Hitchcock said he was forced to change the company's bank mandate to "stop any chance of money flowing outside of the business".

Despite widespread criticism of Sir Philip for selling the firm to Mr Chappell, the committee was told the Topshop billionaire assured BHS management that the appropriate due diligence had been carried out.

Last week administrators to the department store chain, which has branches in Durham, Hartlepool, South Shields and Sunderland, called time on trying to find a buyer, resulting in the loss of up to 11,000 jobs and leaving behind a £571 million pensions black hole.

Mr Topp said Sir Philip made it clear when he sold BHS that the responsibility for the pension deficit fell to a combination of himself, Arcadia and BHS.

Mr Hitchcock added that the BHS pension fund did not need to go into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) as there were solutions available.

The committee also heard that Sir Philip's Arcadia retail empire provided short-term financing to prop up BHS after he sold it to Mr Chappell.

Mr Topp added: "We got consultation from Grant Thornton to work on what a pension proposal would look like that was better than the PPF for the members."

He said that he, Mr Topp and Mr Hitchcock came up with Project Vera as an alternative to the PPF proposal.

Mr Topp also said Mr Chappell was on a boat in the Bahamas when BHS's administration was announced. Mr Chappell had claimed he was undergoing eye surgery at the time.