“Sir” Philip Green, sitting there in Monaco atop his unfeasibly large pile of money, pondering his leisure options which may include a highly specified yacht, executive jet, and an unending stream of hot and cold, well, just about anything, has few cares in the world beyond the revulsion of his homeland at the successive acts of familial enrichment which have left the BHS pension fund in the mire and the taxpayer potentially on the hook.
Another JOLLY POOR SHEOW!
Sadly, though, Green is about to be distracted from the momentary interest of his gilded existence by a most inconvenient event: as the Guardian has told, “Green’s business reputation is torn apart in the report put together by MPs on the work and pensions select committee and the business, innovation and skills (BIS) committee, who concluded there was ‘little to support the reputation for retail business acumen for which he received his knighthood’”. The verdict on his stewardship of BHS is particularly harsh.
The Guardian again: “BHS was subject to ‘systematic plunder’ by former owners Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective ‘hangers-on’, according to MPs, leading to the collapse of a company that once employed 11,000 people [the report] says the ‘tragedy’ of BHS was the ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’ and raises questions about how the governance of private companies and their pension funds should be regulated”.
Green is likely to be asked to make up the shortfall in the BHS pension scheme or be stripped of his knighthood, which would be embarrassing for him, but potentially far worse for the Tories, who invested heavily in Green’s supposed business acumen not long after the Coalition Government took office back in 2010.
How heavily did the Tories invest? Well, then Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude oversaw Green’s lead role in an efficiency review, which identified a number of areas where money might be saved. Maude was positively effusive in his praise for The Great Man: “The scale of the waste uncovered by Sir Philip and his team is staggering … His review shows that for too long there has been no coherent strategy to make government operate more efficiently”. And how was the future Mr Green able to make his conclusions?
You’ll love this one: “Sir Philip and his team were given access to departments’ resource accounts and information on government contracts and leases”. The spiv who fleeced BHS in order to enrich his family was given information from which he could very easily have profited, if only by making it available elsewhere.
Philip Green was appointed to head that review not by some middle-ranking minister, but by Young Dave personally. One can only assume that the order to open the books to Green and his team came from an equally highly placed source. Small wonder Cameron and his former next-door neighbour George Osborne are not only on the back benches, but also looking like they will stay there until they depart the Commons.
Tory sleaze did not end in May 1997. Dave’s legacy is unravelling already.