A Brighton court has given the former owner of BHS (British Home Stores) a date for a trial by jury on charges of breaking pensions laws.
Dominic Chappell, who bought BHS from Philip Green a year before the store chain collapsed, appeared before Judge William Ashworth at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (20 September).
Chappell, who represented himself, faced three charges of neglecting or refusing, without reasonable excuse, to provide information or documents, namely answers to questions about or documents relating to the purchase of British Home Stores Group Ltd by Retail Acquisitons Ltd when required to do so.
Chappell denied the charges and claimed to have not received the summons to court because he was on a boat at the time.
The charges have been bought by the government-operated Pensions Regulator which is based in Brighton.
Chappell, 50, of Clenston Manor, Winterbourne Clenston, Blanford Forum, Dorset, bought BHS for £1 through his company Retail Acquisitions Ltd (RAL) in 2015.
A year later the company collapsed, with a pensions deficit of about £570 million, leading to the closure of dozens of stores at the cost of some 11,000 jobs.
One of the stores to close was the flagship branch at Churchill Square shopping centre in Brighton.
He was ordered to return to court – at Staines Magistrates’ Court in Surrey – on Thursday 23 November.
He is due to stand trial on Monday 8 January next year. The venue is likely to be confirmed in November.
Philip Green has already agreed to pay £360 towards the cost of funding the pensions of former BHS staff.
The regulator sought information from Chappell, who drew about £2.5 million in pay during the year when he owned BHS, to see whether he should also contribute money towards the pension shortfall.
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