Tina Green, whose husband Sir Philip once paid her £1.2bn in order not to pay corporation tax in the UK, has been asked by MPs to answer questions on the collapse of BHS. Mrs Green, who lives in the opulent French tax haven of Monaco, owns Arcadia, the umbrella organisation that operates the British high street empire run by her husband, which includes household names like Topshop and Dorothy Perkins.

MPs from two cross-party select committees - work and pensions, and business and innovation - want to speak to both Sir Philip and Tina Green about the circumstances of BHS' sudden fall from grace.

Sir Philip bought BHS for £200m in 2000, and is known to have paid around £400m in dividends to family members while it remained profitable.

"The spine of our inquiry is looking at how and where money went out of the company, to whom it went, and how this may have disadvantaged the pensioners," said Labour MP Frank Field, the chair of the eork and pensions select committee.

The committees are also seeking to quiz the operators of BHS' allegedly mismanaged pension fund, which has a deficit of £571m, according to the BBC, as well as Dominic Chappell, the current owner of the chain. Chappell has been reported to have drawn as much as £25m out of the business this year. BHS has debts of up to £1.3bn, and retail experts fear that it might not be salvageable.

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Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley is one of a number of businessmen rumoured to be considering a bid for part of the BHS empire. Chappell, a former Formula 3 racing driver who has twice gone bankrupt, recently told the BBC that he hoped to buy back the entire business, but close 40 particularly loss-making stores.

Ashley told the Telegraph that he is working on a bid that could mean no job losses and keep all branches open although he would not specify further. In a statement, he told the paper: "Any continuing interest that we have in BHS would be on the basis that we would anticipate that there would not be any job losses, including jobs at head office, and that all stores would remain open."

Right-wing Labour MP John Mann, meanwhile, has insisted that Sir Philip should be stripped of the knighthood he was awarded by Tony Blair in 2006 if he refuses to repay the dividends.