Should Phillip Green’s Knighthood Be Revoked?

Arcadia group, which owns a number of well-known high-street stores such as Topshop and Burton have gone into administration. 13,000 jobs are at risk as a result, and the fate of the pension fund is in question. Arcadia’s chairman, Phillip Green, reportedly worth upwards of £930 Million, has yet to indicate whether he will reach into his own pocket to alleviate the crisis. The same pocket that was in 2005 filled by a £1.5 Billion dividend from Arcadia Group. There is nothing to suggest illegality, or even incompetence about this collapse, which probably owes more to the ongoing decline of the High-street being fed with the accelerant of the lockdown, but in being seen to wash his hands of yet another crisis, many are once again asking, should Phillip Green’s Knighthood be revoked?

Tax Evasion

In 2002, Arcadia acquired Taveta Investments, and did so under the name of Phillip’s wife, Tina Green. As a resident of Monaco, there was obviously a much lower tax liability as a consequence. For Phillip Green to rely on the hardworking everyman to put the taxes into the system which educate and medically treat his workers, keep the roads and shipping lanes open, maintain order and policing, but then himself to avoid paying his dues, and to receive honours for it, is morally bankrupt. And that’s an understatement.

Illegal Practices

A Dispatches investigation found that British workers producing goods for Arcadia group were receiving half the minimum wage. As the Metro reported:

‘The undercover reporter found himself a job working under the supervision of an abusive battle-axe in a basement factory in Leicester, where he paid no tax and wasn’t asked to provide the relevant work documents. His employers didn’t even bother finding out his name. He worked in a health and safety nightmare, folding clothes and curiously, sewing ‘made in Moldova’ labels into the items. Many will have been shocked by the fact that the factories were producing goods for high-street names like New Look and Topshop.’

British Home Stores

Green sold BHS for £1 in 2015, and although it had debts of £1.3 Billion, he pocketed £586 Million in dividends and did nothing to service the outstanding £571 Million pension deficit. Green was lambasted for his behaviour by MP’s, and he eventually agreed to pay £363 Million back into the pension scheme.

Me Too

Labour peer Peter Hain exercised parliamentary privilege to name Green as being alleged to have committed sexual assault, and to having taken an injunction out with the Daily Telegraph to prevent the reporting of this fact. Subsequently, in May of 2019 Green was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault in Arizona, US.

To earn a Knighthood, an honour, one would expect to have to behave in ways which go above and beyond the call of duty. To be a Knight of the Realm ought to be to carry oneself with dignity, to contribute meaningfully to the society, and to act with honour. In my view, Phillip Green has not only failed to meet this standard, but has failed to meet the standard of the kind of basic ethics we would expect from our businesspeople. They have a duty to their workers, to the taxpayer, and to the society which enabled them to enrich themselves, and Green’s activities in the past two decades shows a consistent dereliction of that duty. MP’s from the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour have all called for Green’s Knighthood to be revoked. I agree with them. Do you?

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