Dominic Chappell, the last owner of BHS, has pledged to fight legal action by the Pensions Regulator designed to force him to pay millions of pounds into the failed retailer’s pension scheme, saying the black hole in the scheme was not his fault.
The regulator has agreed a £363m cash settlement with Sir Philip Green to rescue the BHS pension scheme and halted legal proceedings against the billionaire. However, it is continuing with legal action against Chappell and his company Retail Acquisitions and is understood to be seeking as much as £17m.
Green owned BHS for 15 years until he sold it to Chappell, a former bankrupt with no retail experience, for just £1 in March 2015. Retail Acquisitions (RAL) received payments of up to £25m from BHS despite owning the department store chain for just 13 months until it collapsed.
A spokesman for Retail Acquisitions said: “Any action brought by the Pensions Regulator will be robustly defended because RAL did not cause or add to the pension deficit, that shortfall was built up during the previous ownership.”
The failure of BHS led to the loss of 11,000 jobs and left a £571m pension deficit. A high-profile parliamentary investigation into its demise concluded that the company had been systematically plundered by its owners and accused Chappell of having “his fingers in the till”.