Sir Philip Green reportedly paid £500,000 to gag claims that he racially abused and sexually harassed staff.
Retail mogul Sir Philip Green has been named as the businessman at the centre of a gagging order that prevented accusations of sexual harassment and racial abuse being made public.
Green, 66, was identified by Lord Peter Hain in the House of Lords on Thursday (25 October). Lord Hain made a statement under parliamentary privilege, which grants legal immunity to members of the Houses of Commons and Lords while they are speaking there.
This gave Lord Hain the freedom to identify the Topshop billionaire as the man behind three days of speculation, after a story in The Telegraph revealed that an unnamed businessman had won a court battle to prevent the newspaper reporting allegations of racial abuse and sexual harassment by former employees.
“I feel it is my duty under parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the individual in question,” said Lord Hain, explaining that he had received the information about Green’s identity from someone “intimately involved with the case”.
He defended his decision to name Green by stating that the story was “clearly in the public interest”.
Lord Hain’s move came after Theresa May waded into the debate about whether the then-unnamed businessman’s identity should be revealed.
On Wednesday (24 October), the Prime Minister pledged to hasten legislation to improve employee rights, following instances of companies using non-disclosure agreements “unethically”.
England and Wales’ second-most senior judge, Sir Terence Etherton, had previously ruled that The Telegraph could not report the allegations against Green thanks to a court injunction (commonly known as a ‘gagging order’).
The newspaper’s eight-month long investigation into Green – which included testimony from over two dozen sources – uncovered extensive and “serious” accusations of racist abuse and sexual harassment of staff made against the entrepreneur.
Green, who is worth an estimated £3.8 billion, says he “categorically and wholly” denies the allegations against him.
“The vast majority of cases that involve sexual harassment settle before they get to a tribunal or court,” Claire Dawson, head of employment law at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, who specialises in workplace sexual harassment cases, told Stylist earlier this year.
“And it’s fairly typical that a woman who has been sexually harassed is going to sign up to a confidentiality clause in any settlement that she enters into with an employer.”
Green is reported to have paid around £500,000 in legal fees on his team of seven lawyers in order to ensure the allegations never came to light. The Telegraph has compared the case to that of Harvey Weinstein’s 2017 unmasking as a serial sexual offender, which kickstarted the #MeToo movement.
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