Pensions regulator prosecutes Chappell for witholding info
UNIONS welcomed the announcement yesterday that former BHS owner Dominic Chappell is to be prosecuted by the pensions regulator for his failure to provide information to an investigation into the company’s sale.
The regulator said it was pressing charges against Mr Chappell after he failed to comply with three notices issued under the Pensions Act 2004.
Mr Chappell was the director and majority shareholder of Retail Acquisitions, the company that bought BHS from disgraced tycoon Sir Philip Green for £1 in 2015.
He has been summoned to appear on September 20 at Brighton magistrates’ court, where he faces three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents without a reasonable excuse.
BHS collapsed last year with the loss of 11,000 jobs, leaving 19,000 company pensions holders facing a £571 million deficit in the scheme.
Following a lengthy legal battle and a House of Commons inquiry, Mr Green struck a deal with the regulator to pay £363m towards making good that deficit.
Retail Acquisitions took £8.4m out of BHS during Mr Chappell’s spell in charge and still owed it £6m when it went bust.
General union GMB national officer Keir Greenaway said: “It’s about time the Pensions Regulator realises it does have teeth and starts using them to protect the interests of working people.
“Hard-earned retirement incomes have been put at risk for far too long by speculators and spivs.
“GMB hopes today’s decision by the Pensions Regulator to step up is not just motivated by the profile of this case but a sign of things to come.”
Commons work and pensions committee chairman Frank Field said: “If the Pensions Regulator is frightened of landing the whale, I suppose going after the sprat is the next best thing.
“Why was Sir Philip Green allowed to get away with an inadequate settlement, in which pensions have been cut, yet Dominic Chappell is going to be sued?”
For shopworkers’ union Usdaw, national officer Dave Gill said that the news of the prosecution would be of little comfort to the thousands of BHS workers who lost their livelihoods.
“It is frankly quite shocking that Mr Chappell has apparently not made the requested information available,” he said.