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TPR should be reformed into a "nimbler, more proactive" regulator to intervene sooner when company pension schemes appear to be in difficulty and before problems mount up.

Read more: Sir Philip Green knighthood will be reviewed, Cabinet Office says

The Institute of Directors head of corporate governance, Oliver Parry, said: “In the UK we have a very strong corporate governance ethos in the listed sector, but there clearly needs to be improvements in the unlisted sector. The case of the sale of BHS to Chappell is an example where effective corporate governance clearly broke down.”

His reputation as a top business chief now hangs on his willingness to support BHS pensioners, says Field, speaking to my colleague Sarah Butler.

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The BHS scandal, as well as the deteriorating financial performance of Arcadia, has taken a toll on the fortune controlled by Green’s Monaco-based wife, Tina. The couple, who are also thought to have a property portfolio that includes the Topshop flagship store in London’s West End, saw their wealth marked down £787m to £2bn in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List.

It led to calls for Green to be stripped of his knighthood, awarded by Tony Blair for services to the retail industry in 2006. Green had boasted that he had Blair on speed dial. Blair described Green as “the person who thought up the dream and dreamt the dream into reality”.

Its director general Simon Walker said: "This timely report proposes a number of measures which must be closely considered in light of the flaws in the system exposed by the collapse of BHS.

"I'm discharging my function as a parliamentarian - and what concerned me about this case was wealth, and power that comes with it, and abuse."

Green looks like he might mislay his rag, when asked to clarify his commitment to BHS pensioners.

"Arcadia employs more than 20,000 people and in common with many large businesses sometimes receives formal complaints from employees.

I want to get this over quicker than you do, he pledges. And he promises to do all he can to support any deal to save BHS.

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The analyst said that the whole market had been forced to cut prices as it faced heavy competition from Primark and Zara and that there was a small pack of pricier brands, including Topshop, where “prices are not particularly good value”. The analyst added: “Teenagers will pay £100 or more for the latest cool gear like a trainer, but it has got to be a brand that means something. I’m not sure that Topshop means a lot to the average 18-year-old.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "The majority of employers are managing their pension schemes responsibly but a few recent examples have raised some important questions.

The MPs urge Green to follow his “moral duty” to BHS pensioners that are facing hefty cuts to their pensions. They say he should make a large financial contribution to the retailer's pension fund which is £571m in deficit.

After he was contacted for comment in July, Sir Philip and a number of senior staff applied for an injunction to stop details being published, the Telegraph said.

Retail insiders point to the ongoing high street crisis and the spectre of Brexit, which could hit the sector’s profitability next year. Potential buyers have also been put off by the BHS disaster, knowing that any deal would be subject to close scrutiny by the media and politicians.

"The actions of people in this sorry and tragic saga have left a stain on the reputation of business which reputable and honourable people in enterprise and commerce will find appalling,” Wright said.

“Would you buy a business from Philip Green?” asks one senior retail executive. “Could they do enough due diligence to satisfy themselves?”

It says it spent eight months investigating allegations of bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment.

Green then confirms that he attended a meeting with Mike Ashley and the administrators on 27 April, at Arcadia’s offices.

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I made a bad call selling this business to RAL [Chappell’s Retail Acquisitions], Green says. But other people made mistakes too, including lawyers, and now everyone says it’s just my fault.

Disaster Philip Green

Q: Would you consider buying BHS back if you could get the pension issue sorted?

One former Arcadia staffer suggested that the picture at Topshop had not improved, with sales still thought to be “tanking” amid tough high street conditions: “The other brands never made any money. Topshop and Topman always kept the whole business afloat. If Topshop is not working, they have got a huge problem.”

By 2017, Leonard Green was said to have written down the value of its shareholding on its books. Topshop is also looking for another retailer to take over its expensive store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which opened in 2014, according to US press reports.

A High Court judge refused to grant the gagging order the following month, but Appeal Court judges ruled in Sir Philip's favour on Tuesday this week.

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"It is further inconceivable that Sir Philip Green's deal to dispose of BHS and its giant pension deficit for £1 to a dismally unqualified man, with no plan for the pension schemes and no means of financing one, would have evaded or passed any mandatory clearance scheme.

The former Neath MP said he had been contacted by someone "intimately involved in the case" and, given the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) "to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying", he felt he should speak out.

Lord Hain said while there had been some criticism of his decision on social media, he had received "overwhelming support - particularly from women".

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Bosses like Sir Philip Green should face "nuclear deterrent" punitive fines for avoiding pension responsibilities to avoid a BHS-style "disaster" happening again, an influential group of MPs has said.

Mr Tomlinson, a founder of the Hacked Off press regulation campaign, said: "Parliament can't trespass into areas of the courts and say we think the courts have got it wrong - and that's what Lord Hain is effectively doing."

"Ensuring that the regulator is a more active player in the period before schemes collapse, rather than offering post-mortem analysis, must be a priority."

A series of failures then led to the disposal of the business last year to Dominic Chappell and his Retail Acquisitions vehicle. MPs branded Chappell "manifestly unsuitable" and a "chancer."

He went on to take over Arcadia Group, the parent company of Topshop, in 2002. In 2004 and 2005 he tried and failed for the second and third time to take over M&S, which at one point led him to grab the retailer’s chief executive Stuart Rose by the lapels.