Im sure Mark Zuckerberg has noble intentions in democratising the web, but we should still be wary of private companies controlling the internets infrastructure
A rocket crashing into a satellite and cutting off the internet may sound somewhat like the start of an end-of-the-world blockbuster; surely such destruction, and lack of Wi-Fi, could only be a harbinger of doom?
Fortunately, the scenario that played out last week was slightly less portentous. A SpaceX rocket, part of Elon Musks fevered attempts to eventually colonise Mars, exploded on Thursday as part of a failed pre-launch test fire, destroying a Facebook-owned satellite in the process.
The satellite, which cost the company around 150m, was due to be used as part of Internet.org, a project designed to bring web connectivity to areas of the world with limited internet access. Free Basics, a program developed by Facebook with six internet service providers, is an onramp to the internet, designed to help those without the internet get online. Its latest iteration, in Nigeria, saw the launch of 85 free online services including healthcare offerings, job listings, education portals and, of course, Facebook itself.
So far so good, right? Well, kind of. Providing access to the internet is a noble cause, particularly in parts of the world where it is severely limited or even non-existent. But should this infrastructure belong to a private company like Facebook, or should it be state-owned and maintained? Far be it from me to question the true nature of CEO Mark Zuckerbergs philanthropy, but no matter how charitable a cause Facebook is championing, its primary aim is to make money often from monetising its users data.
Its not just an issue of infrastructure, either; the destruction of the satellite also raises important questions about net neutrality that internet service providers, be it Sky, BT, or Facebook, should enable equal access to all content and applications on the web without favouring any source over another. The narrative Facebook has given Internet.org is lofty and well-meaning enough it describes the difference a weather report could make for a farmer planting some crops, and talks of how free information could help a child without textbooks but look beyond the sleek website and humanitarian buzzwords and its a little more troubling.
Users of the service may be connected to the internet, but their browsing choices are severely limited the 85 services that are provided in Nigeria, for example, may be a good start for those getting to grips with the web, but are otherwise entirely inadequate. The whole point of the internet the joy of it, the endlessly radical possibilities that are part and parcel of it is that its open, that its neutral, that its users are free to say, do, and read almost anything they want on it.
Its not been without critics on this front, either; when Facebook attempted to launch the Free Basics initiative in India it met fierce opposition from net neutrality groups who felt that the entire internet should be accessible to users. Several campaigns were set up to lobby against the service, with one, Save the Internet (now the Internet Freedom Foundation), stating that one network provider should not have a competitive advantage for specific services.
Everybody should have an equal opportunity to use the sites and services they want, irrespective of which provider they use to connect to the internet, the campaign wrote in its mission statement. Evidently Indian regulators agreed: Free Basics was blocked in February until Facebook could provide more details about the terms of the service.
Theres obviously no immediate need to panic its not like Zuckerberg is holed up in a den somewhere laughing maniacally about his omnipotent control of the internet. State-controlled infrastructure isnt always safe or reliable either earlier this year, for example, the internet was effectively switched off in Iraq to prevent teenagers from cheating on their exams, and the internet is widely censored in countries such as China and North Korea. This, clearly, is not a favourable outcome.
But if were slightly more cynical about the whole endeavour, its not hard to see why Facebook might be so keen to provide these services beyond its possibly genuine desire to create a more connected world. Facebooks user base has reached near saturation point in the US and Europe, making countries such as Nigeria and India potential goldmines when it comes to new sign-ups. More users, and more user data, benefit Facebook in one extremely simple way financially.
Like it or not, this financial consideration is a significant factor in the way that the company both provides its services and limits access to others. Free and open access to information is a right and privately held companies should not be the ones who decide how, where, and to whom that right is bestowed.
Indonesian Food Blogger: The Unifying Power Of Cuisine And Social Media
My dad used to be very skeptical about my food blogging: "Why are you doing this? You are not making money. You are not doing good things." But as time passes, my dad is starting to see what I try to do. He's starting to understand that you can do …
Blogging Dirty (blog)
Scouting the Falcons vs Panthers matchup with Cat Crave
Blogging Dirty (blog)
Blogging Dirty: With former Panthers star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin now playing for the Buffalo Bills and tight end Greg Olsen not being able to play this Sunday, which Panthers offensive player or players do you believe will carry the load against …
The long read: Luxembourg has shown how far a tiny country can go by serving the needs of global capitalism. Now it has set its sights on outer space. By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian
On a drizzly afternoon in April, Prince Guillaume, the hereditary grand duke of Luxembourg, and his wife, Princess Stéphanie, sailed through the front doors of an office building in the outskirts of Seattle and into the headquarters of an asteroid-mining startup called Planetary Resources, which plans to “expand the economy into space”.
The company’s engineers greeted the royals with hors d’oeuvres, craft beer and bottles upon bottles of Columbia Valley rieslings and syrahs. In the corner of the lounge stood a vintage Asteroids arcade game; on the wall hung an American flag alongside the grand duchy’s own red, white and blue stripes. Between the two flags was a prototype of a spacecraft designed to roam the galaxy, prospecting asteroids for precious natural resources that would someday – at least in theory – make the shareholders of Planetary Resources very wealthy earthlings indeed.
The nation of Luxembourg is one of Planetary Resources’ main boosters. The country’s pledge of €25m (£22.5m) – which includes both direct funding and state support for research and development – is just one element of its wildly ambitious campaign to become a terrestrial hub for the business of mining minerals, metals and other resources on celestial bodies. The tiny country enriched itself significantly over the past century by greasing the wheels of global finance; now, as companies such as Planetary Resources prepare for a cosmic land grab, Luxembourg wants to use its tiny terrestrial perch to help send capitalism into space.
Space exploration has historically been an arena for grand, nationalistic operations that were too costly, dangerous and complex for civilians to take up without state backing. But now, private companies want in, raising questions that, until recently, have seemed like mere thought experiments or hypotheticals: who can lay claim to an asteroid and all of its extractive wealth? Should space benefit “all of humankind”, as the international treaties signed in the 60s intended, or is that idealism outdated? How do you measure those benefits, anyway? Does trickle-down theory apply in zero-gravity conditions?
Space is becoming a testing ground for these thorny ethical and legal questions, and Luxembourg – a tiny country that has sustained itself off of regulatory intricacies and tax loopholes for decades – is positioning itself to help find the answers. While major nations such as China and India plough increasing sums of money into developing space programmes to rival Nasa, Luxembourg is making a different bet: that it can become home to a multinational cast of entrepreneurs who want to go into space not for just the sake of scientific progress or to strengthen their nation’s geopolitical hand, but also to make money.
It already has a keen clientele. Space entrepreneurs speak of a new “gold rush” and compare their mission to that of the frontiersmen, or the early industrialists. While planet Earth’s limited stock of natural resources is rapidly being depleted, asteroid miners see a solution in the vast quantities of untapped water, minerals and metals in outer space. And the fledgling “NewSpace” industry – an umbrella term for commercial spaceflight, asteroid mining and other private ventures – has found eager supporters in the investor class. In April, Goldman Sachs sent a note to clients claiming that asteroid mining “could be more realistic than perceived”, thanks to the falling cost of launching rockets and the vast quantities of platinum sitting on space rocks, just waiting to be exploited.
“[Mining asteroids] is not a new idea, but what’s new is state support of the idea,” says Chris Voorhees, the chief engineer of Planetary Resources. “Everyone thought it was inevitable but they weren’t sure when it would occur.” Now, he says, Luxembourg is “making it happen”.
The grand duchy – which has all the square footage of an asteroid and, with a population of half a million, not all that many more inhabitants – has earmarked €200m to fund NewSpace companies that join its new space sector; to date, six have taken it up on the offer. It has sent officials to Japan, China and the UAE to talk about space exploration partnerships, and appointed space industry veterans, including the ex-head of the European Space Agency, to advise them. In May, it took out a glossy supplement in Scientific American magazine to signal it is committed not just to helping businesses, but to advancing research as well.
And in July, the parliament passed its law – the first of its kind in Europe, and the most far-reaching in the world – asserting that if a Luxembourgish company launches a spacecraft that obtains water, silver, gold or any other valuable substance on a celestial body, the extracted materials will be considered the company’s legitimate private property by a legitimate sovereign nation.
The presence of royalty at Planetary Resources HQ ahead of the passing of the law was a canny part of the country’s space incursion. The young couple was there to dazzle, charm and lend gravitas to the operation – European aristocracy doesn’t show up in suburban office parks any old day – but the mission’s greater aim was to impress upon Silicon Valley executives, the bemused Luxembourgish press and space scientists around the world that mining asteroids was no longer science fiction. To that end, the royals were accompanied by about 40 of their subjects, all of whom had a role to play in this emerging industry.
Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s congenial deputy prime minister, led the delegation. With his easy manner, excellent English and penchant for fancy cars, he cuts a Macronian figure: a product of European socialist political parties, sure, and a social liberal to his core – Schneider is married to a man – but one who will willingly play handmaiden to global capitalist interests should the right opportunity arise. He announced recently that he would be running for the role of prime minister in 2018.
With Schneider came a delegation of scientists, trade attaches, bankers, lawyers and local journalists who switched between German, English, French and the local language, a consonant-heavy mix of Flemish and German with the occasional foreign word thrown in to supplement: “meeting”, “framework”, “brunch”. (“We don’t have all the words,” a member of the delegation told me sheepishly.) In French, the language is known as Luxembourgeois, which pretty much says it all; the duchy’s 500,000 citizens, who have a GDP per capita of $104,000 (£78,800), are the wealthiest in the world after Qatar’s, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The Planetary Resources team took their benefactors on a tour of the labs where its hardware is built. The company isn’t mining asteroids yet, but to benefit from Luxembourg’s concessions, it opened an office in the grand duchy this year. Up close, its Arkyd 6 spacecraft – which is ready for launch – looks just like satellites look in the movies, only smaller. It had multiple flaps and appendages, including an infrared sensor, a star tracker to orient the craft in space and a GPS unit, which works only in the earth’s orbit.
Once the tour was complete, cocktail hour began. Schneider, who owns a vineyard, bounced from one conversation to another, brimming with enthusiasm. To end the visit, Chris Lewicki, the CEO of the company, gave a toast praising Luxembourg’s contributions “to an abundant future for all of humanity”. As a parting gift, he presented her royal highness with a necklace. Instead of jewels, it was studded with tiny fragments of asteroids.
It is reasonable to wonder what, exactly, a marginal European monarchy, egged on by a vivacious gay socialist, was doing telling American entrepreneurs on the cutting edge of innovation that their hamlet-sized state could propel humanity – and capitalism – into deep space. The grand duchy has no national space agency, no launching sites, and only modest research capabilities. It opened its first and only university in 2003 and its military consists of 1,008 troops. Luxembourg does not fit the image of a spacefaring nation; in fact, some have questioned whether it should even be a nation at all.
Yet Luxembourg’s very essence – as a speck in the heart of Europe – allows, even requires, it to partake in such ambitious ventures. Its national motto is “We want to remain what we are” and, over the centuries, this independent spirit has endured occupations by the dukes of Burgundy, the kings of Spain and France, the emperors of Austria and the king of the Netherlands. Today, the state, which only gained full independence in 1867, occupies a curious position in the global imagination: a country with an outsized economic influence that everyone has heard of, but that no one can quite locate on a map.
According to Gabriel Zucman, assistant professor of economics at UC Berkeley, the country is hard to miss in the financial world. “Luxembourg has private banks like Switzerland, it has a big mutual fund industry like Ireland’s, it’s used for corporate tax avoidance like Bermuda or the Netherlands, and it also hosts one of the two international central depositories for securities, so it’s active in euro bonds,” he says. “It’s the tax haven of tax havens, present at all stages of the financial industry.” Tony Norfield, a former banker in the City of London who now writes on global finance, has described Luxembourg as “a paragon of parasitism”.
The story of how a marginal and relatively powerless country has survived world wars, economic crises and cataclysmic technological advances to become a banking and finance powerhouse tells us a lot about how far a small country can go if it devotes itself to anticipating and accommodating the needs of global capital. It’s a contentious business: for every happy shareholder praising Luxembourg’s business-friendly rules and money-saving loopholes, there’s a critic condemning Luxembourg’s willingness to expedite the regulatory “race to the bottom”.
The Kyrgyz capital was long a liberal beacon in Central Asia until a ban on LGBT propaganda. With attacks and rapes on the rise, the community is scared
Anara had never been in love before. Pacing nervously outside the house of the girl she’d just started seeing, overwhelmed by emotions, she forgot the need for caution.
Dating a member of the same sex can be dangerous in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city, Bishkek. Their budding relationship was already the subject of whisper and rumour.
Anara waited on that crisp winter’s afternoon for what felt like hours, but her date never emerged from the dour apartment block. A group of men who had been watching Anara from a neighbouring building invited the teenager inside for a cup of tea.
“They waited for me to finish my drink, then all eight of the men raped me,” she says, avoiding all eye contact. “It was a corrective gang rape – they were trying to fix me.”
Anara is not the only gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person to fall victim of hate crime in Kyrgyzstan.
A recent survey by the LGBT organisation Kyrgyz Indigo found that 84% of respondents had experienced physical violence, while 35% had been victims of sexual violence.
This was not always the case in Bishkek. With its dedicated gay clubs and largely indifferent population, the capital once served as a relatively safe haven for Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT community.
But in 2014, the government launched a series of legal reforms that marked a dramatic shift away from the western values that had earned Bishkek a reputation as Central Asia’s most socially liberal city.
In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, homosexual conduct is criminalised, carrying a maximum prison sentence of two and three years respectively. With it goes widespread and deep-rooted homophobia and discrimination, including among law enforcement officials and medical personnel. Turkmen people detained and charged with sodomy are forced to undergo examinations with the purported objective of finding “proof” of homosexual activity.
The situation is not much better in Kazakhstan, where many LGBT people choose to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of reprisal. In order to change their listed gender on identity documents, transgender people are forced to undergo invasive procedures, including coerced sterilisation.
Bishkek’s liberal attitudes are now under threat. In April last year the law, order and crime-fighting parliamentary committee returned Kyrgyzstan’s anti-LGBT bill for a second reading. Its proposed ban of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” appeared aimed at suppressing information about same-sex relations in Kyrgyzstan.
The bill is still awaiting its third and final reading before being enacted into law, but it emboldened radical nationalist movements such as Kalys and Kyrk Choro, who have adopted violent means to defend an ultraconservative concept of Kyrgyz values.
According to activists at the LGBT organisation Labrys, the political shift and proposed legislation led to a near 300% increase in attacks against LGBT people in the city and forced Bishkek’s gay community into the shadows.
“[This legislation] was the biggest propaganda of them all,” says one activist who, like most of the people interviewed by Guardian Cities, has asked to remain anonymous for fear of attack.
“You could be on public transport and talk about LGBT stuff and nobody would notice because they did not really know what it was,” he adds. “But since the legislation was introduced, a lot of the population knows what the LGBT community is. There is a lot of aggression toward us and we cannot be open in public any more.”
Sioux City Catholic Globe
'Radical' motherhood focus of blog
Sioux City Catholic Globe
Another part of the process is navigating social media to get the blog out there for people to see it. âWe really haven't done a whole lot of promoting yet,â said Allison. âThat is our next phase. We don't have any ads to make money off it.â Emily …
Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she doesn’t use taxi app Uber because it is not “morally acceptable”.
“I don’t like the way they treat their workers,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Ms Long-Bailey claimed Uber drivers were being “exploited” and should have the same rights as workers with permanent jobs.
Uber said its drivers liked “being their own boss”.
Ms Long-Bailey told Today: “I don’t personally use Uber because I don’t feel that it is morally acceptable but that’s not to say they can’t reform their practices.”
She added: “I don’t want to see companies model their operations on the Uber model.”
The San Francisco-based company argues that its drivers are not employees but self-employed contractors.
An Uber spokesman said: “Millions of people rely on Uber to get around and tens of thousands of drivers use our app to make money on their own terms.
“Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades before our app existed and with Uber they have more control.
“Drivers are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive with no shifts or minimum hours. In fact the main reason people say they sign up to drive with Uber is so they can be their own boss.
“Drivers using Uber made average fares of 15 per hour last year after our service fee and, even after costs, the average driver took home well over the National Living Wage.
“We’re also proud to have moved things on from this industry’s cash-in-hand past since every fare is electronically recorded, traceable and transparent.”
An employment tribunal last year ruled that Uber drivers were entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the national minimum wage.
The tribunal described Uber’s claim that its London operation was a network of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common technology platform as “faintly ridiculous”.
The company’s appeal against the employment tribunal decision will be heard later this year.
The tribunal said Uber drivers were not employees in the traditional sense, so were not entitled to the full range of employment rights, but could be classed as workers while they were using the Uber app and so were entitled to the minimum wage.
A government commissioned report by Tony Blair’s former adviser, Matthew Taylor, recommends creating a new category of worker called a “dependent contractor”, who should be given extra protections by firms such as Uber and Deliveroo.
But Ms Long-Bailey said this would not necessarily help them.
“We don’t really need a new status, the court victories that we’ve far have proved that many of these so-called self-employed people who work for the likes of Uber, for example, are workers and should be given adequate protections.
“And I do worry that if this isn’t dealt with in sufficient detail, it could undermine the court rulings of Uber, for example, which it was hoped to have wide-ranging implications for the industry.”
Ms Long-Bailey’s deputy, shadow business minister Chi Onwurah, said she used Uber, but would have to reconsider if workers’ rights were not strengthened.
The Labour MP told Sky News: “These services bring real benefits to people. As a single woman leaving a meeting at 11 o’clock at night, being able to trace and see that your Uber is approaching is a benefit.
“We are not putting the blame on consumers and users of these applications.”
But, she added, “if the regulatory form doesn’t come through then I would find it very hard to use Uber or Deliveroo because it is important that we support strong working rights”.
The governments plan for 14 garden villages across the country offers a fantastic opportunity to create ideal living spaces. But where do you start? Here, five writers set out their architectural, cultural, transport and political visions
Cities define modern life. They make more money than other places, demand more of the people who live in them, and provide more for them too. Except for the people who arent making money; and if you are the kind who does make money, you probably know little about them. Several million humans penned together in an unfeasibly small space, and compelled to make life work. There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city, Jane Jacobs, the urban activist, once said. People make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.
Her words are pertinent given the governments intention to build up to 14 garden villages, plus larger garden towns across England, each created as a new discrete settlement. Here at last is a theoretical blank page that gives communities the chance to think about what a city or town should look like.
Cities developed in the UK as a result of the industrial revolution, and some things have changed surprisingly little. A traffic jam, that modern peril, could wreak havoc for hours in 1749. Nearly three centuries on, streets are still cleaned mostly by a human with a broom and there are still more people than places for them to live. But now stop the clock. Design a city from scratch.
Here is the necessary acreage, and here is a serviceable budget. Where would you start? Would you build roads straight or curved and how many coffee shops would your high street have? Come to think of it, does a city need a high street? Just for a minute, imagine what you would like to see. There could be community-owned pets that the lonely could walk or love, sheltered park benches that turn into divans for those in need of a bed, refuges and freecycle joints, vertical transport solutions (lifts) and universal stairlessness to render accessibility inarguable. And maybe the best answers would lie in small, simple considerations in evolving our own behaviour, laying new traditions to take care of ourselves, each other and our homes. And maybe, so that loneliness isnt stigmatised as antisocial, there could be a sign that reads: Its OK to feed the pigeons.
Just four years ago Sir Philip Green was dubbed King of the High Street by BBC Radio 4’s Profile programme.
Now he is being branded the “Unacceptable Face of Capitalism” by a Conservative MP, as BHS, the retail chain he sold just a year ago for 1, goes into administration leaving a 571m hole in its pension fund.
Richard Fuller MP, a member of parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, says the retail tycoon’s reputation should be questioned.
It is a reputation rich in character and anecdote from his failed attempts to takeover Marks and Spencer to the lavish lifestyle that has attracted accusations of tax avoidance.
Despite being born into a well-to-do family in South London, Philip Green prided himself on having worked his way to the top.
His competitive streak was apparent from an early age, noticed by school mates at Carmel College, his exclusive boarding school, nicknamed the “Jewish Eton”.
School friend Tony Rauch recalls Philip making a beeline for the table tennis table at break time, tussling with another boy to get hold of the bat that was in best condition.
“Unfortunately the other kid was a bit bigger than Philip and won,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Profile programme in 2012.
“He got very angry; cried a little bit,” says Mr Rauch. “He wasn’t physically hurt, I think he was just very angry at having lost.”
Sir Philip never lost his will to win. Profile reported that even when playing a game with his own children he played to win and quoted him as saying: “Why do you want to do something and not win – to not succeed at something?”
He left school aged 15, and began working on the forecourt of the petrol station his mother managed.
He then went on to learn business basics as an apprentice in a shoe warehouse and at 23-years-old he set up his own business importing and selling jeans.
Stuart Lansley, the author of an unauthorised biography of Sir Philip described those early days for Radio 4.
“He had a very mixed track record of starting up companies, and closing them down, working with other people, falling out with people.
“He travelled a lot, learning a lot about the supply chain, who the cheaper suppliers were and so on – but he certainly wasn’t a household name. “
Ironically it was BHS, known then as British Home Stores, that marked the moment Sir Philip Green finally “arrived” in 2000.
He paid 200m for what was already a slightly faded, dowdy chain. According to Stuart Lansley, his restless mind had spotted a beguiling new way to make money from the High Street:
“Philip Green moved from having a few million, to a few billion, in the space of a few years.
“He learned the way to make big bucks was essentially to do what’s known in the trade as a ‘leveraged buy-out’.
“He borrowed very large sums of money, invested a little bit himself, and bought up companies that were relatively cheap, because they weren’t doing very well. He turned them around, paying-off his debt, and then tripling – quadrupling – the money he put in, in a matter of a couple of years.”
Two years later he copied that model of the leveraged buyout when he bought the giant retail empire Arcadia, which owns brands such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, and of course Topshop and Topman.
Sir Philip Green’s most ambitious move came in 2004, when he put together 10bn ($16.1bn), much of it from investment banks, to make an offer for Marks and Spencer.
Even Sir Stuart Rose – then his rival and at the helm of Marks at the time – was impressed.
“Philip is not only a first-class retailer, he is absolutely pre-eminent in his generation in terms of his financial nous and ability,” Sir Stuart told Profile.
“If I wanted to be slightly uncharitable, I could say that he came to the market to raise a very, very large sum of money at a time when money was cheap and freely available – but only Philip could have put that together. It was a pretty amazing achievement.”
Sir Philip’s business skills may not be in doubt – but his interpersonal skills are another matter, and he reportedly has a very short fuse.
Sir Stuart Rose has first-hand experience of this, with Sir Philip reportedly grabbing the then Marks and Spencer boss by the lapels during his second unsuccessful takeover bid in 2004.
“There was a fairly physical occasion one morning, yes. I think tension had got quite high during the bid and Philip got upset about something,” said Sir Stuart.
“He wasn’t above ringing me up during the height of the bid and singing ‘if I were a rich man’ down the telephone to me, trying to point out the error of my ways [for not selling]… that I would make more money.
“He used to say ‘the only jet you know is Easyjet’.”
Sir Philip Green is not shy about enjoying the trappings of his success – his personal fortune is estimated at somewhere between 3bn and 4bn and he enjoys spending it.
He commutes into London from Monaco in a private jet, has a super-yacht called Lionheart, and is famous for throwing extravagant parties for friends and family in exotic places, with entertainment from the likes of Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and George Michael.
He has also forged a business partnership with supermodel Kate Moss, whose line of clothes helped raise Topshop’s profile in the world of high fashion.
But what has attracted the most controversy is not the lavish lifestyle – but his tax affairs.
In 2005 his company paid a 1.2bn dividend to the owner of Arcadia – Sir Philip’s wife, Tina. Since she is a resident of Monaco, she paid no tax in the UK.
In 2010 activists demonstrated outside the flagship Topshop and BHS stores in central London after Sir Philip was chosen by Prime Minister David Cameron to conduct a government efficiency review.
They thought his tax arrangements made him the wrong choice. Despite their anger, however, Arcadia has paid significant sums in corporation tax.
But some of Arcadia’s glamour has waned in recent years. Critics say that Green, notoriously averse to electronic gadgets, has not embraced online shopping as aggressively as his competitors.
While sales remained steady through the group, BHS was seen as the weakest link, and was sold for 1 to Retail Acquisitions, a group of investors including a Formula 3000 racing driver, bankers and entrepreneurs.
Now questions are being asked over just how much money Sir Philip had taken out of the company in the years before that sale.
Angela Eagle, the shadow business secretary, said: “In this situation it appears this owner extracted hundreds of millions of pounds from the business and walked away to his favourite tax haven, leaving the Pension Protection Scheme to pick up the bill.”
Business Editor Simon Jack said: “In his defence he ran this company for 15 years, he employed thousands and thousands of people, and he was a great force for UK fashion retail, and made it a great force here and in the US.
“It doesn’t look good as he jumps on his yacht to go back to Monaco leaving pensioners and employees worried about it, but he is not a natural corporate raider. He’s not necessarily the vulture type of capitalist that people have portrayed him in the last couple of days.”