You have to hand it to Piers Morgan: if you’re his pal, he will defend you even when others have long abandoned the cause. For him, loyalty to friends is clearly to be taken seriously, even to the bewilderment of everyone else. Today, his chosen lost cause was the now-disgraced former boss of BHS Philip Green, who is on track to be stripped of the knighthood many believe he should never have been awarded in the first place.
Green, as I’ve previously told, was today excoriated in an MPs’ report that took his alleged business acumen apart, and concluded that BHS, all of whose stores will close very soon, had been subjected to “systematic plunder”, the most obvious example being a pension fund shortfall of more than £570 million. While all this was going on, Green and his family were becoming enriched beyond most peoples’ dreams of avarice.
Morgan was - almost alone in the print and broadcast media today - ready to defend Green to viewers of ITV Good Morning Britain, although his campaign developed not necessarily to his advantage. Here on Zelo Street, though, Piers Morgan always gets cut a little slack, as he stood against the Iraq adventure when it was fashionable to go with the crowd, something for which Alastair Campbell has still not forgiven him.
But his innings today got off to a sticky start when he opined “Just pointing out that Sir Philip has been very generous to a lot of charities over the years”. That sounds awfully like the defence of Dinsdale Piranha: “He was a lovely man, he bought his mother flowers an’ that”. The journalistic licence didn’t help, either: “I didn't defend what he did at BHS & I can’t … I just don't share the popular view he's a monster”.
Bloody hell Piers, nobody is suggesting he’s a “monster”, just that he shafted BHS. And although his initial reaction was to stand by Green and not be swayed by mass sentiment - “I'd rather stay true to myself & what I honestly feel than run with the baying mob” - reaction to his GMB pitch has not been favourable. At all.
Indeed, Danny Baker had to point out to Morgan a most unfortunate incident: “When we did Apprentice he thought I was crew member & was pompous & boorish. When told who i was changed completely”. What say Piers to that one? “He has his faults but I'd rather wait to see how he resolves the BHS situation before passing final judgement … The BHS employees & pension holders must be recompensed & looked after. I hope Sir Philip does this”. Well, he’ll need to write out a cheque for £570 million - and then honour it.
I know Piers Morgan likes to stick by his pals, but as with Andy Coulson, who presided over what was a borderline criminal enterprise at the late and not at all lamented Screws, and Donald Trump, who has abused and alienated many in his own chosen party on his way to securing the Republican nomination for the US Presidency, he does seem to back lost causes way past the point that others might at least keep schtum.
Philip Green’s behaviour is beyond forgivable. The BHS employees who are getting screwed over for their years of moderately paid loyalty can attest to that.