LONDON — British lawmakers on Thursday approved a motion recommending Jewish billionaire tycoon Philip Green be stripped of his knighthood following the collapse of department store chain BHS, which cost 11,000 jobs.
MPs in the House of Commons unanimously backed the non-binding motion that Green’s knighthood be “cancelled and annulled” after a debate in which they accused Green of stripping BHS assets.
When it collapsed in June, BHS had debts totaling more than £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion), including a £571-million deficit in its pension fund.
MPs earlier called on Green to “urgently” address the shortfalls in a pension fund of 20,000 former employees.
BHS, which sold clothing and home goods, failed to keep pace with traditional rivals such as Marks & Spencer and online giants like Amazon, resulting in a major loss of market share.
The 88-year-old company had 163 stores and 74 franchise operations across 18 countries.
Green bought BHS in 2000 for £200 million and sold it in 2015 for £1 to Dominic Chappell, a former bankrupt businessman with no retail experience.
Labour MP Iain Wright called the saga “one of the biggest corporate scandals of modern times.”
“[Green] took the rings from BHS’s fingers, he beat it black and blue, he starved it of food and water, he put it on life support, and then he wanted credit for keeping it alive,” he told lawmakers.
Other public figures who have been stripped of their titles include Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 2008, disgraced banker Fred Goodwin in 2012, and television star and serial pedophile Jimmy Savile in 2013.
Green, the billionaire owner of Topshop, appeared before a parliamentary committee in July and its report called him the “unacceptable face of capitalism.”
He accused committee chairman Frank Field of running a “kangaroo court” and of a “constant press campaign barracking and insulting me and my family.”