6 Aug 2016

Sir Philip Green and the unwilling paparazzi

Strange. You are an off-duty journalist, taking a summer break in Greece. Suddenly the most ‘wanted’ subject in business reporting pitches up in a vast super yacht at the mouth of the very bay where you are swimming. Do you do anything about it? Go and shout questions at him? Commandeer a fishing boat to chase him?

No. You are on holiday for goodness sake. And yet something gnaws at your reporting soul. Here’s a guy with a brand new yacht – ‘Lionheart’ – which is said to cost £100 million, and is four decks high and 300 feet long. You can’t miss it. Yet I tried to. In the end the hack in me gave way and tweeted a wonky iPhone shot or two.

As we munched our supper in a Greek café, I couldn’t help watching the sea to see if Sir Philip Green would come ashore. He’s stayed silent since releasing a letter last week saying he’s “working towards a solution for the BHS pensioners” – and accusing the MP Frank Field of creating a “false narrative.” I’m sure he has other things he wants to say. But the great bulk of boat on the darkening skyline released nothing, neither ship’s tender, nor human. Then this very morning, sitting on the rusting balcony where we were staying, there’s the Maltese flag of convenience; there’s the slick tender with the big name across the stern. ‘Lionheart’ – perhaps shorthand for BHS workers’ pensions scandal. The tender is bobbing about off the quay. Suddenly it dashes to the quayside and there she is, Lady Green, the offshore tenant of all the monies, or most of them, that Sir Philip has ever amassed. Tax exile, Monaco resident, looking fit. Have I become a paparazzi or am I just doing my job? What job? What does it all tell us?

Apparently we sent our own reporter, Paul McNamara, and crew last week. Despite valiant efforts, Sir Philip’s entourage allowed them to get scarcely closer to him than I am, coincidentally lying on a beach, his yacht distorting the vista ahead.  

The Greens are mucking about in a massive super yacht enjoying their gains. And the fate of the BHS workers’ pensions? Sorry folks, I don’t have a new line on all that…but I know who does.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4