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Why Sir Philip Green Might Be About To Lose His Knighthood

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Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images for Topshop.
When high street store BHS collapsed in April, many people, including MPs, were quick to point the finger at Sir Philip Green, the business's former owner who sold it last year.

A major factor behind the collapse, which led 11,000 people to lose their jobs and a pension deficit of £571m, was that Green had extracted large sums of money from the business before he sold it, leaving it on "life support", according to a damning report by MPs in July.

Now MPs have gone further in their criticism of Green today, backing a call for him to be stripped of his knighthood.

MPs from all parties attacked him in a three-hour debate and backed the non-binding motion unopposed, which means a full vote wasn't necessary, reported the BBC.

However, a final decision will still need to be taken by the Honours Forfeiture Committee before we know if Green – who was notably absent from Topshop's front row during last month's London Fashion Week – will actually lose his title.

MPs laid into Green hard during the long debate, with some saying he should have never received a knighthood in the first place.

Labour MP David Winnick called him "a billionaire spiv who should never have received a knighthood", adding that he "has shamed British capitalism".

Winnick also said Green's "billionaire's lifestyle" (see here, here and here) was a "form of provocation" to BHS employees and pensioners.

Others compared him to the autocrat Napoleon and Robert Maxwell, the former boss of the Mirror group of newspapers who took £440m from the Mirror pension fund before he died. Green was also called an "asset-stripper", the BBC reported.

Labour MP Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions committee, said his committee's report had found that "literally nothing happened in BHS or Arcadia without Sir Philip knowing directly", and that Green could have solved the company's pension deficit problem easily.

But not everyone agreed and Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said he disapproved of the debate taking place at all. "I don't think it is right for the House of Commons to be debating something that may lead to a penalty for someone without any proper judicial process," he said.

However, the widespread support for Green to lose his title among MPs will put added pressure on the Honours Forfeiture Committee to act, the BBC reported.

If Green does lose his knighthood, he will join a line of controversial people who have been stripped of their titles. The former boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin, had his removed in 2012 and the Queen took Robert Mugabe's honorary knighthood away in 2008.
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