FORMER BHS owner Dominic Chappell has been found guilty of failing to provide information about the firm's pension schemes to investigators after it collapsed into administration with the loss of thousands of jobs.

The self-described entrepreneur had claimed he did "everything and more" to help The Pensions Regulator (TPR) but was convicted of three charges under the Pensions Act 2004 after a four-day trial.

During the course of the proceedings at Brighton Magistrates' Court the 51-year-old, who confirmed ahead of the verdict that he would appeal any conviction, was described by his defence lawyer as a "scapegoat" in the wake of the chain folding.

But he was found to have had no reasonable excuse for not providing the information requested by TPR, with the prosecution suggesting he had been "making up the defence as he goes along".

Chappell had been requested to provide information to TPR under the Pensions Act on two occasions in April and May 2016 and a third time in February 2017.

The third charge related to a request by TPR for information about an alleged leak of information from a confidential "warning notice" sent out in November 2016.

While there have been successful prosecutions brought in the past, including one woman who was tried in her absence, Chappell is the first person to be convicted after denying such an offence at trial, the TPR said.

Chappell, of Clenston Manor, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, was the director of Retail Acquisitions, the company that acquired BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015.

The business went into administration in April 2016, leaving a £571 million pension deficit. Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363m towards it.

Chappell, wearing a suit and white open-necked shirt, sat in the dock and did not react as judgment was delivered, around seven hours after District Judge William Ashworth retired to consider his verdicts on Thursday.

During the trial he accused TPR of being "hostile and deliberate" in serving the section 72 notices, which require information to be provided to the regulator under the Pensions Act.

He said the notices signal that a company is the subject of an investigation into wrongdoing and had "fundamentally affected our business".

In his defence he also said he spent months locked out of the chain's headquarters with no access to crucial documents following its collapse, meaning he could not provide the relevant information.

District Judge Ashworth dismissed that explanation as "simply not believable" and said he had not been a credible witness.

In a separate action, TPR is pursuing Chappell for a contribution, understood to be in the millions, to the BHS pension schemes.

A spokesman said: "Our separate anti-avoidance action against Dominic Chappell continues.

"TPR's determinations panel is considering evidence submitted by various parties and is expected to be in a position to issue its written determination notice to affected parties in the coming weeks."

Speaking to reporters outside court, Chappell said he would be appealing the verdict.

He said: "As you can imagine I'm extremely disappointed and annoyed about the outcome. It's not the one we were looking for.

"I've instructed my legal team to put in an immediate application for an appeal on this case, which we will be doing tomorrow.

"We feel that this case has not been treated fairly and we will look deeply into this."