Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has been found guilty of failing to provide information about the firm’s pension schemes to investigators after it collapsed into administration with the loss of thousands of jobs.
The self-described entrepreneur had claimed he did “everything and more” to help The Pensions Regulator (TPR) but was convicted of three charges under the Pensions Act 2004 after a four-day trial.
During the course of the proceedings at Brighton Magistrates’ Court the 51-year-old, who confirmed ahead of the verdict that he would appeal any conviction, was described by his defence lawyer as a “scapegoat” in the wake of the chain folding.
But he was found to have had no reasonable excuse for not providing the information requested by TPR, with the prosecution suggesting he had been “making up the defence as he goes along”.
After six and a half hours of deliberation district judge William Ashworth said some of the evidence given by Chappell was “not credible” with some of his explanations “making no sense”.
He said: “All the requests made were valid and reasonable and all the time frames to fulfil these requests were also reasonable.”
Outside court, Chappell said: “As you can imagine I’m extremely disappointed and annoyed about the outcome. It’s not the one we were looking for.
“I’ve instructed my legal team to put in an immediate application for an appeal on this case. We feel that this case has not been treated fairly and we will look deeply into this.”
Chappell, who said he would appeal the decision, bought BHS from Sir Philip Green in 2015 for £1 and it collapsed in April 2016.
When BHS collapsed, 11,000 people were made redundant and the company was £571m short on the pensions payments it owed retirees.
happell will be sentenced in Winchester next Friday.