MPs have approved the motion to strip Sir Phillip Green of his knighthood following a debate in the House of Commons. The former BHS owner has faced mounting criticism following the collapse of the retailer, resulting in the loss of 11,000 jobs and a £571m ($700m) pension deficit.
During a three-hour debate, Tory MP Richard Fuller, who tabled an amendment calling for Green's knighthood to be "cancelled and annulled", said the 64-year-old retail tycoon had failed "to find his moral compass" for not addressing the pension deficit.
Iain Wright, chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, described what happened at BHS as "one of the biggest corporate scandals of modern times".
Labour's Frank Field, who chaired the committee investigating how Green dealt with BHS, accused Green of acting like a "successful traditional asset-stripper" and a character "most like the Napoleon I read about in the history books while I was at school".
Labour veteran Dennis Skinner addd: "This Napoleon figure has reared its head – I'd always thought Sir Philip Green was more of a [Robert] Maxwell. He had the money, he had the yachts, he had the workers – and he robbed them of their pensions. It's almost a parallel."
Labour's David Winnick branded Sir Philip "a billionaire spiv who should never have received a knighthood. A billionaire spiv who has shamed British capitalism".
MPs voted unanimously to recommend Green be stopped of the honour he was awarded in 2006 for services to retail. However, the decision on whether the title will be removed from Green will ultimately be decided by the honours forfeiture committee, which may find it difficult to ignore the will of the politicians.
The debate was the first time MPs have voted to strip a knighthood from a member of the public.
Prior to the debate, Green launched an attack against Field for his role in the investigation into the demise of BHS. He accused the MP of making "highly defamatory and false statements" by appearing to suggest Arcadia Group – which is also owned by Green – could face the same end as BHS.
In a letter from Taveta Investments, Green's family holding company, he added: "The allegations you are making are false and your behaviour unacceptable. Arcadia has 22,000 employees who do not deserve to be treated in this manner."