Topshop's Philip Green named over harassment allegations
The retail magnate was named in the British Parliament
British billionaire Sir Philip Green has been named as the man at the centre of a gagging order of harassment claims uncovered by a newspaper.
The billionaire was named in the House of Lords by Peter Hain, who made use of parliament’s free speech guarantee known as parliamentary privilege. The guarantee exempts anything said in Parliament from legal action.
Sir Philip had obtained a temporary court order, known as a super-injunction, to stop the Daily Telegraph from printing allegations ranging from sexual harassment and racial abuse. Five alleged victims said they were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to prevent them from going to the media.
The newspaper had spent eight months investigating allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and racial abuse against the retail magnate, and ran an article against the then unnamed businessman on Tuesday. Its is claimed Sir Philip spent more than £500,000 on legal fees to acquire the gagging order.
Mr Hain said, “I feel it's my duty under parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the individual in question, given that the media have been subject to an injunction preventing publication of the full details of a story which is clearly in the public interest."
He added that Sir Philip had made use of NDA’s "to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying".
Sir Philip was knighted in 2006, and is believed to have a net worth of almost $5 billion. In 2016, there were calls to strip him of the honour after one of Britain’s largest retail chains – BHS – went bankrupt barely a year after he sold the company.
Critics say the retail magnate, who also owns Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge, had stripped the retail chain of its assets at the expense of shareholders for personal profit.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Sir Philip said: "To the extent that it is suggested that I have been guilty of unlawful sexual or racist behaviour, I categorically and wholly deny these allegations."
He said that he and his company, Arcadia, "take accusations and grievances from employees very seriously and in the event that one is raised, it is thoroughly investigated.
"Arcadia employs more than 20,000 people and in common with many large businesses sometimes receives formal complaints from employees.
"In some cases these are settled with the agreement of all parties and their legal advisers. These settlements are confidential so I cannot comment further on them."
Updated: October 26, 2018 10:40 AM