Top MP in fresh call for Philip Green to lose knighthood over bullying claims

Posted On: 
15th February 2019

Pressure is mounting for retail tycoon Sir Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood after senior MP Frank Field called for the Queen to get involved.

Sir Philip has vigorously denied allegations of bullying and harassment as well as any suggestion of unlawful conduct.
Credit: 
PA

Mr Field has written to the head of Whitehall's Honours Forfeiture Committee - which can urge the Queen to strip someone of their award - demanding action to show that "huge wealth" cannot shield the under-fire businessman from scrutiny.

The call comes after Sir Philip dropped a legal battle with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, allowing it to report on a series of non-disclosure agreements he had in place with former employees.

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The Topshop tycoon has faced claims that he groped a female employee and used a racial slur at another worker. He has vigorously denied the allegations and any suggestion of unlawful conduct.

Mr Field - who chairs the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee - has previously clashed with the retail boss over his handling of employees' pension schemes at the BHS chain of stores.

MPs backed a non-binding vote in 2016 for Sir Philip to lose his knighthood after the firm went bust with a £571m scheme deficit.

Mr Field has now written to Sir Jonathan Stephens, the head of Whitehall's Forfeiture Committee, calling him to show that "the mere fact of having huge wealth does not exempt individual honours" from "the standards of behaviour that ordinary men and women are expected to fulfil".

The MP said: "Sir Philip sought to silence a number of employees from describing to the world the extent of the harassment they had suffered, in what can best be described as a 'circus' of continual harassment.

"Fortunately, despite Sir Philip's wealth, he has not been able to buy himself out of being accountable for his behaviour."

Under Forefeiture Committee guidelines, honours can be removed if someone is found guilty of a criminal offence, behaviour "which results in censure by a regulatory or a professional body", or "any other behaviour that is deemed to bring the honours system into disrepute".

Mr Field said honours should be used to reward "meritorious behaviour which we would wish other to emulate"

"In no way now can it be held by any reasonable person, I would have thought, that Sir Philip has passed the minimum behavioural tests for people holding high honours in our society," he added.

'STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN'

The latest intervention from Mr Field comes just days after Theresa May hinted that she could back calls for Sir Philip - who was knighted under Tony Blair's government in 2006 - to lose the gong.

The Prime Minister told MPs the honours system was "there to recognise exceptional service and achievement in a wide range of spheres of public life".

"It's important that if the recipient brings that honour into disrepute steps should be taken to review that honour," she said.