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BHS inquiry latest: Olswang remains in focus as MPs probe fees

As the inquiry into the sale of BHS continues, Work and Pensions committee chair Frank Field has asked Olswang to reveal details of its fees paid during the purchase of the retailer for £1 last year.

Labour MP Field wrote a letter to Olswang general counsel Stephen Hermer yesterday (31 May) with a series of follow up questions on payments made to the law firm by BHS buyer Retail Acquisitions Limited.

Field said: ‘We have a number of follow up questions relating to the fees and other sums paid to Olswang.’ The MP called for a response by 6 June.

Field’s letter asked for details of how much Olswang had charged Retail Acquisitions for its services and its fees for the successful purchase of BHS. He also queried what due diligence processes Olswang used with regards to its fees, asking: ‘How many steps back does Olswang look to trace the ultimate source of such monies?’

While Arcadia Group finance director Paul Budge had given evidence to the committee, stating that Retail Acquisitions had put £35m into a third party account with the firm, Field asked Hermer to explain steps taken by Olswang to find out how this sum was raised.

Last week, the Work and Pensions Committee and Business, Innovation and Skills Committee heard evidence from Hermer and Linklaters corporate partner Owen Clay regarding the sale of BHS. The retailer was owned by Sir Phillip Green’s Arcadia Group before its sale in 2015. It went into administration in April this year.

MPs expressed concerns about the sale of BHS to Retail Acquisitions, which is 90% owned by Dominic Chappell. Chappell had previously been declared bankrupt twice.

Field said that so far the inquiry into the sale had ‘prompted more questions than answers’.

The SRA said it was monitoring the evidence given by the lawyers involved.