Big Phil set the tone by rolling his eyelids at the committee while sitting down and his performance became progressively more unstable the longer the session dragged on. First in line was Conservative Richard Fuller, who he believed was looking at him in a funny way. “Stop staring at me like that,” he demanded. Then he had a pop at another Tory, Jeremy Quin, for playing with his glasses in an annoying way. The committee clerk was ticked off for whispering and Labour’s Karen Buck, aka “That Lady”, was called out for being a mind-reader in a former life. Most bizarrely of all, the reporter from the Sunday Times was all but accused of bringing about the collapse of BHS by investigating the deal.
“I’m not here to blame anyone because that’s not my style,” he insisted. “But there are some other people I could mention who are to blame.” Quite.
“Can we get back to talking about some of the details?” asked co-chair Frank Field. “I’m afraid I don’t understand the question,” said an apparently bemused Big Phil. Field tried again. “Can we get back to talking about the some of the details?”
“That’s not the right question to be asking me,” insisted Big Phil second time round. This became a familiar pattern; almost every question was either too difficult or not the right one. It’s fair to say that Big Phil has concentration issues as well as trust issues.