Sir Philip Green was named in parliament today as the business leader at the centre of claims of sexual harassment and racial abuse after the media was barred from reporting the allegations.
The Topshop billionaire was named in the House of Lords by Peter Hain, the former leader of the House of Commons, under parliamentary privilege.
Hain told the House of Lords: “Having been contacted by someone intimately involved in the case of a powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying which is compulsively continuing, 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 this story, which is clearly in the public interest.”
Later in the day Green responded: "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 added: "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."
The Telegraph was ready to run an article on its eight-month investigation into claims of sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying yesterday but was barred from doing so by the Court of Appeal, which granted an injunction preventing media from reporting on the case.
Five staff who allegedly experienced harassment while working with the figure – only described as a "leading businessman" – were silenced with the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), according to the publication.
The newspaper had successfully argued that publishing the news was in the public interest, winning a High Court judgement after the businessman had sought to gain an injunction against the title.
However, the businessman won on appeal, preventing the Telegraph from publishing any details of the NDAs.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday Labour MP Jess Philips said: "It seems that our laws allow rich and powerful men to pretty much do whatever they want as long as they can pay to keep it quiet."
Prime Minister Theresa May did not comment on the claims directly, but yesterday said: "Non-disclosure agreements cannot stop people from whistle blowing, but it is clear that some employers are using them unethically."