Philip Green, former owner of insolvent UK retailer BHS, has criticised the UK pension regulator’s behaviour in settling a dispute over the company’s pension funds, saying attempts to resolve the matter have “hit a brick wall”.

Discussing new attempts to restructure the retailer’s two pension funds, which reported a buyout deficit of £570m (€747m) when BHS closed earlier this year, Green, chairman of Arcadia Group, criticised The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) approach.

Speaking at a joint hearing of the work and pensions committee and the business, innovations and skills committee in the House of Commons, Green lamented he had not heard from Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of TPR, to meet in person.

“Does that sound as if somebody wants to fix it?” Green questioned, during a six-hour hearing that was at times bad-tempered.

TPR is currently conducting an anti-avoidance investigation into last year’s sale of BHS to Retail Acquisition for a token sum.

The businessman told MPs he was hoping to revive a previous proposal to restructure BHS’s underfunded schemes.

Discussing talks with Malcolm Weir, the Pension Protection Fund’s (PPF) head of restructuring and insolvency, Green said Weir had been “extremely helpful”.

“And then, unfortunately, we hit a brick wall when it comes to trying to arrive at the regulator,” he added.

Green repeatedly criticised the regulator, saying it took them “a long time to respond to anything” and questioned pensions minister Ros Altmann’s decision to avoid a meeting with him.

“I attempted to contact Baroness Altmann,” Green told the committee. “She said, ‘My team have told me not to interfere – they are dealing with it’.

“I thought that the boss basically sat above the team, as you are telling me I do.”

Green also aired his concerns about the PPF’s charging of a now risk-based levy to fund itself, recalling that a decision to no longer recognise a company guarantee led to BHS’s levy charge increasing “from around £200,000 to about £3m”.

Saying he questioned the need for such a high levy to be paid, a point he raised with former pensions minister Steve Webb in a meeting, Green explained he would have rather paid an additional £3m in deficit-reduction payments to the BHS fund than see the monies go to the UK lifeboat scheme.

Any attempt by Green to restructure the BHS schemes to avoid their entry into the PPF is likely to be costly, as the funds were assessed as having a £275m deficit to meet the lifeboat fund’s lower funding standards.

Any restructure, which would involve lump-sum payments to most scheme members, would likely have to match, or exceed, benefit levels guaranteed by the PPF.