Out of jail after serving three years for tax fraud: failed tycoon who bought BHS from Sir Philip Green for £1 – before it collapsed with loss of 11,000 jobs

Out of jail after serving three years for tax fraud: failed tycoon who bought BHS from Sir Philip Green for £1 – before it collapsed with loss of 11,000 jobs

  •  Disgraced former BHS boss Dominic Chappell has been released from prison
  •  Chappell has spent last three years at Category C Guys Marsh Prison in Dorset
  •  Shamed Chappell was convicted in 2020 of evading around £600,000 in taxes 

Disgraced former BHS boss Dominic Chappell has walked free from prison after serving three years for tax fraud, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Our exclusive pictures show the moment the shamed entrepreneur, who bought BHS from billionaire Sir Philip Green for £1 before it collapsed with the loss of 11,000 jobs, emerged through a 14ft-high security gate at Guys Marsh Prison in Dorset on Friday morning.

Dressed in a grey zip-neck fleece, blue jeans and high-top trainers, and carrying a drawstring duffel bag, Chappell was greeted by an older man, believed to be his father Joseph, 84, who guided him towards a waiting Jaguar estate car.

The two men smiled broadly and embraced before 56-year-old Chappell got into the driving seat.

Then, spotting The Mail on Sunday photographer and reporter, the dapper Millfield School-educated Chappell got out of the car and posed for pictures. 

Dressed in a grey zip-neck fleece, blue jeans and high-top trainers, and carrying a drawstring duffel bag, Chappell was greeted by an older man, believed to be his father Joseph, 84

He did not answer any questions, saying only ‘thank you, gentlemen’ before getting back into the car and driving away. 

He has served half of his six-year sentence and is now on parole.

Chappell, who was declared bankrupt three times and has no retail experience, bought the failed high street chain from Sir Philip for just £1 in March 2015. 

The company’s woes did not prevent him from living the high life, blowing a fortune on personal luxuries such as a £200,000 racing yacht, a £1 million speedboat, a Bentley, Beretta guns and a holiday in the Bahamas.

The former racing driver drew a £510,000 salary and hired a helicopter that he claimed to have flown himself to conduct visits to the down-at-heel stores.

After Chappell drained millions out of the company, it crashed in April 2016 with the devastating loss of 11,000 jobs across the UK, and leaving a pensions black hole of more than £500 million.

Chappell, a father-of-two, split from his wife Rebecca in 2020, when she reportedly threw him out of their Grade I-listed mansion in Blandford Forum, Dorset.

A few months later, Chappell was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of evading around £600,000 in taxes. 

His legal team told the jury that Chappell was ‘simply too busy’ to lead BHS properly and blamed his financial advisers.

His defence lawyer claimed Chappell had been left ‘utterly broke’ by the BHS crash and that had the pension problem not emerged following his purchase, he would have been able to pay his tax bill.

However, the judge, Mr Justice Bryan, told him he had ‘engaged in a long and consistent course of conduct designed to cheat the Revenue’, adding: ‘You are not of positive good character. Your offending occurs against a backdrop of successive bankruptcies.’

During an insolvency court hearing, it was alleged Chappell had wrongfully diverted £1.5 million of funds from BHS to a company in Sweden one day after the potential appointment of an administrator had been discussed by the board.

The BHS collapse also caused humiliation for tycoon Sir Philip when the £571 million pension black hole emerged. 

After weeks of pressure, Green finally agreed to pay back £363 million. Chappell was separately ordered to pay back £9.5 million, while the Government picked up the rest of the tab.

BHS' woes did not prevent Chappell from living the high life, blowing a fortune on personal luxuries such as a £200,000 racing yacht, a £1 million speedboat, a Bentley, Beretta guns and a holiday in the Bahamas

Chappell was barred from running a company for ten years while his father, Joseph, was banned for five years. Both were accused of making ‘reckless financial transactions’.

Chappell is understood to have spent the majority of his time behind bars at Guys Marsh, after a spell in Wandsworth.

The Category C prison houses about 460 prisoners including murderers and rapists.

It is understood that while inside, Chappell was put in charge of a team repairing TVs and other electronic devices.

During an insolvency court hearing, it was alleged Chappell had wrongfully diverted £1.5 million of funds from BHS to a company in Sweden one day after the potential appointment of an administrator had been discussed by the board

Last night, a source said: ‘He lived a quiet life inside and got used to the routine of the last couple of years. His dad, children and friends have kept his spirits up.

‘He’s now looking to start new businesses and get back to work.’

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Nick Constable

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