Hove MP asks House of Commons committee to investigate collapse of Palmer and Harvey

Posted On 03 Jan 2018 at 12:05 pm

Hove MP Peter Kyle has asked a House of Commons select committee to investigate the collapse of the snacks and tobacco wholesaler Palmer and Harvey (P&H).

About 3,000 jobs have been lost as a result of P&H going into administration – more than 400 of them at the company’s head office in Davigdor Road, Hove.

Mr Kyle said: “I have been in touch with staff and, with Tracey Crouch MP, have requested to Frank Field that the Work and Pensions Committee investigate the company’s financial affairs leading up to the insolvency.”

Mr Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead, chairs the committee.

He won plaudits for his robust approach to dealing with the pension deficit at another collapsed business – high street retailer BHS (British Home Stores) – after Sir Philip Green’s tenure.

BHS, which had a flagship branch at Churchill Square shopping centre, went bust a year after Sir Philip sold the store chain to Dominic Chappell.

Sir Philip agreed to pay £363 million towards the deficit in a deal with the Pensions Regulator. His wife Tina had been paid dividends of at least £400 million from the business.

The Greens do not appear to be facing any legal proceedings as a result of the collapse of BHS.

But the Brighton-based watchdog is prosecuting Mr Chappell for not co-operating with it as it dealt with BHS’s £570 million pensions shortfall.

Labour MP Mr Kyle wants Mr Field’s Committee to look into the failure of Palmer and Harvey – reportedly Britain’s fifth biggest private company – with the same rigour.

One of his concerns is the way in which a small group of people were paid £77 million in dividends as losses mounted.

Another concern is a £3.4 million loan to former P&H chief executive Chris Etherington which, controversially, may not have to be repaid.

Mr Kyle, who returns to Westminster next Monday (8 January), added: “After the recess I’m going to call a meeting of MPs with P&H facilities in their constituencies so that we can work together on it.”

A petition calling on MPs to investigate what went wrong at Palmer and Harvey has been signed by more than 11,000 people. To sign it, click here.

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