Here’s one incident of bullying that this time doesn’t come from the embittered remnants of New Labour. Mike also reported that Sir Philip Green, the man, who ran BHS into the ground, now wants to sue Frank Field for comparing him with Robert Maxwell. Maxwell, if you remember, was the media mogul, who stole money from the Mirror Group’s pension fund, leaving the newspaper in a precarious financial position. Maxwell did so illegally. Green, on the other hand, also took massive amounts of money from BHS, including its pension fund, quite legally. The company still collapsed, however. His lawyers, Schillings, who specialise in libel actions, claim that Field’s comments are defamatory. Field, on his part, has made it clear that he is not going to apologise, and described Green’s attack as displacement therapy.
Schillings, and the other overpaid firms of solicitors specialising in this area of the law, Carter-Ruck, are regularly in the pages of Private Eye for the way they sue and bully the weak on behalf of the rich, powerful and corrupt. Carter-Ruck have been in the magazine’s pages so often, that they’ve acquired a nickname: Carter-F*ck. In fact it seems to me that the comparison between Maxwell and Green is entirely appropriate, as their personal greed did imperil their companies. Maxwell plunged the Mirror Group into a financial crisis, and Green’s own cupidity has effectively destroyed BHS. Even the question of legality, which is the chief difference between the two cases, does not seem to me to be as clear cut as Green would like everyone to believe. I’m sure that Green did act perfectly legally. But although Robert Maxwell acted illegally, I think that his plundering of the Mirror’s pension fund was enabled by a piece of legislation Margaret Thatcher had passed. This allowed businessmen to include pension schemes as part of their companies’ assets. This, it appears to me, encouraged Maxwell and some others like him, who are less notorious, to rob these accounts under the attitude that they were just another source of money.
Anyway, I think that the parallels between Maxwell and Green are so close, that the only correct response is Arkell Vs Pressdram, as Private Eye would say.