The man who bought BHS for £1 has appeared in court, facing three charges of failing to co-operate with an inquiry into the takeover and subsequent failure of the retailer.
Dominic Chappell, 51, appeared before Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Monday. He is facing three charges of “neglecting or refusing” to provide information requested by The Pensions Regulator.
The first two charges are connected to the purchase of BHS by his company, Retail Acquisitions Limited, while the third charge is connected to the regulator’s investigation into a leak of information.
Mr Chappell, wearing a blue suit and open-necked white shirt, spoke only to confirm his name and age. He denied all three charges.
He watched proceedings from the dock, having been denied permission to sit alongside his solicitor in the court.
Barrister Alex Stein, for The Pensions Regulator, told the court that Mr Chappell had received “numerous requests” for information but said “nothing has been received”.
He also said “there is no record” that Mr Chappell had warned the regulator about the leak of information, as he claims.
Mr Chappell is likely to give evidence later this week. At an earlier hearing, he said he had supplied the information and described the legal action as “an abuse of process”.
Mr Chappell led a takeover of BHS in 2015, paying a nominal pound to buy the company from Sir Philip Green’s retail empire.
Image: BHS collapsed in 2016 leaving 11,000 staff out of work
BHS, founded in 1928, employed around 11,000 people and had more than 19,000 people in its pension scheme, but it collapsed a year later, leaving a deficit that was valued at £571m.
Mr Chappell received millions of pounds during his stewardship of the company. However, he has always maintained that much of that income went towards takeover costs, professional services and the day-to-day expenses of keeping BHS trading.
Since then, Sir Philip has agreed a deal to pay up to £363m to create a new, restructured BHS pensions scheme.
However, the store’s pensioners will still not receive the full pension entitlement that they had previously expected.
Sir Philip’s agreement came after months of public anger. MPs voted that he should be stripped of his knighthood, which has not yet happened, while a parliamentary inquiry referred to him as “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.
The regulator started its investigation into the BHS pension scheme the month before Mr Chappell completed his takeover.
The inquiry was known as “Project Danny” and led to dozens of so-called “section 72” notices being sent out to companies and individuals demanding information and documents.
More from Business
The criminal charges against Mr Chappell are unusual and have only previously been used a handful of times.
Each of the three charges carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine.