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Ex-BHS owner 'failed to give pension details three times'

Dominic Chappell oversaw the loss of thousands of jobs at the high street chain.

Dominic Chappell bought BHS for a nominal £1 in 2015.
Dominic Chappell bought BHS for a nominal £1 in 2015. PA

The former boss of BHS failed to provide information about the firm's pension schemes to investigators three times after it collapsed into administration, a court has heard.

Dominic Chappell, 51, oversaw the loss of thousands of jobs at the high street chain after his firm, Retail Acquisitions, bought BHS for a nominal £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015.

The firm had 11,000 employees while two pension schemes had more than 19,000 members, including past employees, Brighton Magistrates' Court heard.

BHS went into administration in April 2016, leaving a £571 million pension deficit that Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363 million towards.

Sir Philip Green paid £363 million towards the pension deficit after public pressure.
Sir Philip Green paid £363 million towards the pension deficit after public pressure. PA

Alex Stein, prosecuting for The Pensions Regulator, said Chappell had been asked to provide information to TPR under the Pensions Act in April and May 2016 and a third time in February 2017.

Mr Stein added: "Despite numerous reminders and assurances from the defendant and his advisers nothing has been received in relation to the (first) two notices."

The third notice relates to a request by TPR for information from Chappell about an alleged leak of information from a confidential "warning notice" sent out in November 2016, the court heard.

Chappell and his legal team said they were having trouble getting the information requested by TPR under section 72 of the Pensions Act, the court heard.

Dominic Chappell denies the three charges.
Dominic Chappell denies the three charges. PA

The prosecuting Mr Stein also contested a claim from Chappell's lawyer Michael Levy that his client had received a call from an unnamed person "from the Daily Telegraph newspaper" on the day the notice was sent out "in security that would make 007 proud".

Mr Stein told the court: "That account has never been given to the regulator before, 'I took a call from someone from the Telegraph'."

Regarding the alleged phonecall, Mr Levy said: "The person who is speaking on the telephone starts quoting paragraphs and pages from the warning notice.

"He (Chappell) tells his instructed solicitor. He phones the office of TPR that day and speaks to someone he doesn't know. He reports that. Later on, some weeks later he reports that in a letter to TPR. He has reported it."

Chappell, of Clenston Manor, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, sat in the dock making notes on a tablet after a request for him to be allowed to sit with his legal team in the court room was rejected.

He denies three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents, without a reasonable excuse, contrary to the Pensions Act 2004.

The trial, which is due to last four days, continues on Tuesday.

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