'Would you mind not looking at me?' - The best quotes of Philip Green's BHS hearing

The businessman faced the music (and some feisty MPs) over his role in the retailer's sorry state.

by Rebecca Smith
Last Updated: 16 Jun 2016

Considering thousands of BHS employees could be out of jobs in the coming weeks, it’s not surprising a fair few of them are baying for blood. Fingers have been pointing in all directions. Only last week the retailer's former owner Philip Green called for the resignation of Frank Field, chairman of the work and pensions committee, saying he was biased. Green had (much like Mike Ashley ahead of his highly publicised select committee appearance) initially refused to give evidence, but here we are.

The hearing was highly anticipated – not least because Green has a notorious short fuse. Would MPs be able to get his back up? The short answer to that was yes (notably Conservative MP Richard Graham). Despite stonewalling on many of the big issues, Green said there has been contact with the regulator over Project Thor (Arcadia’s proposal to restructure the BHS pension scheme, suspended in 2014).

‘We want to find a solution for the 20,000 pensioners’, he declared and implied his contribution to fixing the deficit could be outweigh the £275m cost of paying PPF-level benefits. Deloitte’s working on the plan and details will apparently be revealed shortly. We’ll all wait with bated breath...

Until then, have a look over some of Green’s choice quotes from his appearance before MPs:

The most memorable moments from Philip Green's appearance

‘I spent nearly a third of my working career with BHS and probably the problem that got me into trouble was having too strong of an emotional tie to the people and the business.’

‘It didn’t need to be like this – I just want to apologise to all of the BHS people involved in this.’

‘Respectfully...’ and ‘With respect...’ – when opening many responses to questions he wasn’t best happy with.

‘I think it’s known – it’s not a secret. When I went there, I had no idea I was ever going to do any more business, I didn’t go there with a plan’ – on being asked when he found out Monaco had tax advantages.

'30-40% of the FTSE is owned by non-UK corporations. If we go around the high street there are dozens of non-UK investors – do you want to say every non-UK holder is a tax avoider? – interrupting a question about ‘legitimate tax avoidance’.

‘Would you mind not looking at me like that all the time? It’s really disturbing’ – when he found Conservative MP Richard Fuller’s eyes a little too piercing.

‘If we’re allowed to use hindsight 2002 would’ve been a good time to sell the business.’

‘Your lady here...’ – directed to chair Frank Field, when referencing female MPs.

‘Please, you can’t run 3,000 stores with one person. I have never moved one penny from our bank account and I wouldn’t know where to phone to get any money’ – when it was claimed every witness thus far had presented the image Green was the one ultimately calling the shots.

‘Maybe, without meaning to be rude, you should try retail in your next career.’

‘If I wanted to park the blame I think I could spend the next 20 minutes blaming other people. I think there are people who have questions to answer.’

‘There has to be some accountability on behalf of the trustees and there have been some stupid, idiotic mistakes made.’

‘That’s not very fair. We put back £750m, everyone wants to ignore that’ – when MPs suggest he hasn’t been particularly concerned about the BHS pension fund (it had a £43m surplus in 2000 before he started taking dividends out).

‘I plead to you, can we go to the pension scheme, instead of this man beating me up which is unnecessary’ – after some detailed questions from Richard Graham.

‘I could be a murderer the way they’re writing about me. I haven’t got any guns’ – on his stormy relationship with the media (a dig at Dominic Chappell thrown into the mix?).

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