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Amid call for tycoon to lose knighthood..

Ashley makes new bid to acquire BHS stores

Mike Ashley at BIS hearingSports Direct chairman, Mike Ashley, has renewed his attempt to acquire some of the BHS stores.

In a letter to the administrators Duff & Phelps he says he is also interested in the brand.

The company is being wound down after administrators failed to find a buyer for the collapsed business. A Sports Direct spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have a continued interest in BHS.

“We have written to the administrator seeking to re-open a dialogue about saving a number of jobs and stores along with the BHS name.”

During explosive evidence given to a committee of MPs last week, Dominic Chappell, who bought the 164-store chain for £1 from Sir Philip Green said that just before BHS went into administration he had arranged a rescue deal backed by Mr Ashley.

But he claimed this had been blocked by Sir Philip who, on learning of this deal, “went absolutely crazy, screaming and shouting down the phone that he didn’t want to get involved with Mike Ashley”.

Sir Philip has denied knowing about the deal and a spokesman has said he “was unaware of any bid interest by Mike Ashley”.

Separately, Sir Philip has demanded the resignation of the chairman of the MPs committee probing the collapse of BHS.

Frank FieldSir Philip claims Labour MP Frank Field (right), who heads the Work and Pensions committee, wants to destroy the reputation of the former owner of the chain.

The administrators failed to find a buyer for the chain which employs 11,000 staff and has a pensions deficit now said to be £600 million.

Sir Philip whose Arcadia Group owns Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, is due to attend a meeting of committee on Wednesday to give evidence in the demise of BHS, but is threatening to boycott the session unless Mr Field steps down.

In a letter to the chairman he accused him of being biased against him.

“I am not prepared to participate in a process which has not even the pretence of fairness and objectivity and which has as its primary objective the destruction of my reputation,” he wrote.

He added: “I therefore require you to resign immediately from this inquiry.”

In response, Mr Field has said only that he expects Sir Philip to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has called for Sir Philip to be stripped of his knighthood if he does not attend.

Mr McDonnell said that Sir Philip’s behaviour was an “insult to the British public”.

In an article in The Observer, in which he refuses to use the billionaire’s title, he says: “If he refuses to come before parliament, Green should be stripped of his knighthood.”

A group of Conservative MPs have announced plans to write to the Honours Committee calling on it to reconsider Sir Philip’s knighthood, unless he pledges to cover the BHS pension fund blackhole.



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