Ex-BHS boss Chappell found guilty following TPR prosecution

  • Ex-BHS boss Chappell found guilty following TPR prosecution

Ex-BHS boss Chappell found guilty following TPR prosecution

Dominic Chappell is convicted of three charges brought by a regulator following a four day trial in Brighton.

The watchdog accused Chappell of failing to respond to the three section 72 notices, which demanded him to supply information related to its investigation into the sale and collapse of the former department store chain.

BHS plunged into administration 13 months after Chappell acquired it, affecting 11,000 jobs and around 19,000 pension holders due to a £571 million pension black hole.

The businessman at the helm of BHS when it collapsed is facing an unlimited fine after being convicted of failing to co-operate with The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

But Chappell was today found guilty of three charges of refusing to provide information about two of BHS's pension schemes, which had around 19,000 members between them.

"All the requests made were valid and reasonable and all the time frames to fulfil these requests were also reasonable", said the judge, adding that some of the evidence was "incomprehensible" and his explanations for not providing the information "unreliable".

In the first case of its kind, the pensions regulator proved that Chappell had failed to provide documents that would have laid bare the full scale of the crisis facing BHS. He said: "As you can imagine, I'm extremely disappointed and annoyed about the outcome". It is not the one we were looking for.

"The defendant can alter his travel arrangements", Ashworth said.

Philip Green
Retail Acquisitions bought BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015

Nicola Parish, TPR's executive director of frontline regulation, said: "Dominic Chappell failed to provide us with information we had requested in connection with our investigation into the sale and ultimate collapse of BHS, despite numerous requests".

"We feel this case has not been treated fairly", he said.

The Pensions Regulator is understood to still be pursuing Chappell for his contribution to the black hole in BHS's pension fund, to the tune of £10m.

"Anyone who fails to cooperate with our information notices risks getting a criminal record".

It subsequently agreed a deal with Green that he should pay £363m towards the pension deficit.

On more than one occasion as he delivered his judgment at Brighton Magistrates' Court, Judge Ashworth said: "I do not believe the defendant's account at all".

The regulator said they requested information from Chappell on three occasions - twice in 2016 and once again a year ago.

Michael Levy, defending, had earlier told the court that Chappell was a "political scapegoat" for BHS's failure, claiming the case was a "show trial".