BHS collapse: Claims of lying, theft and death threats were 'unbelievable at times', says MP

BHS collapse: Claims of lying, theft and death threats were 'unbelievable at times', says MP Richard Fuller

Former BHS board member Darren Topp arrives at the BHS select Committee

Thursday, June 9, 2016

MP Richard Fuller, a member of the House of Commons Select Committee formed to look into the collapse of retailer British Home Stores, has told talkRADIO that the evidence heard was "unbelievable at times."

The retailer went into liquidation earlier this month, with 11,000 jobs likely to be lost over the coming weeks. 

On Wednesday, the select committee heard the company's former owner, Dominic Chappell, accused of being a "Premier League class liar" with his "fingers in the till". 

The allegation was made by BHS' former finance chief Michael Hitchcock. In a second scathing attack, the company's ex-chief executive, Darren Topp, claimed that Chappell threatened to kill him in a row over a £1.5m transfer of funds to BHS Sweden.

Chappell denied both accusations. 

Fuller, the Conservative member for Bedford and Kempston slammed the attitudes held by the former company executives.

"At times it was unbelievable," he told Sam Delaney. "You were hearing [all these] stories and anyone listening would have thought 'what on earth is going on at the top of our major businesses?'.

"People are seeing those at the top of major business carrying on with attitudes completely divorced from an interest in their employees, seemingly divorced from anything which is right or wrong.

"For the many people in business, who run their businesses fairly and successfully and care about their employees, they'll be scratching their heads about why on earth this behaviour is tolerated."

Referring to a similar hearing earlier in the week with the sports retail business Sports Direct, Fuller said: We've had two examples where people have been let down very badly indeed."

While admitting that the select committee's ability to hold those in power to account was limited, Fuller said that the hearings would help that process begin.

"We've already prompted various bodies to start their reviews," he said.

"We're not a court, but our role really allows people to talk and say how they saw things from their angle.

"The public get to see their inner workings and the contradictions which come with this.

"Directors get positions of power and authority, we need to make sure they are using this power for the good of everyone, not themselves."