- Marjorie van Elven |
The High Court has formally dropped Sir Philip Green’s injunction against The Telegraph, allowing the British newspaper to publish allegations of sexual and racial harassment against employees of the Arcadia Group, the fashion conglomerate at which Green serves as Chairman.
In October, the newspaper said it had evidence of bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment against a retail tycoon following an eight-month investigation, but was prevented from revealing his identity because victims signed non-disclosure agreements and the tycoon filed an injunction against the publication. Days later, Lord Peter Hain named Green as the executive in question in the House of Lords, saying it was his “duty” to exercise his parliamentary privilege to name the billionaire and prevent non-disclosure agreements to serve as a means to cover up harassment cases.
According to The Telegraph’s most recent reports, Sir Philip Green paid a female executive more than 1 million pounds to keep her mouth shut after he called her a “naughty girl” and groped her. Two other female employees were paid hundreds of thousands of pounds after complaining about Green’s “inappropriate” behavior, which included “grabbing” one of them by the face and putting the other in a “headlock”. But that’s not all: Green allegedly told a senior black employee that his “problem” was that he was “still throwing spears in the jungle”. Said employee received 1 million pounds in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement. A fifth staff member claims Green smashed his mobile phone while reprimanding him for not keeping him sufficiently informed.
Since Green’s name was revealed, Arcadia’s brand Topshop has been falling in consumers’ opinion, according to a YouGov survey. Singer Beyoncé, whose athleisure label Ivy Park was partially owned by Arcadia Group, also rushed to buy Arcadia’s share to distance herself from Green.
Although the tycoon has dropped his legal action against The Telegraph, the newspaper reports he is still threatening to sue former staff with non-disclosure agreements if they speak out against him, with backing from Arcadia Group’s board.
”This is a very serious abuse of the non-disclosure agreement law. What we have here is a twisting of the law in order to silence people who have allegedly been mistreated in an appalling way”, said Lord Peter Hain yesterday, urging the Prime Minister to bring in new laws to solve this issue. “If NDAs can be used to silence allegations of criminal activity then the message it sends is that your boss can grope you at work and get away with it. The current law is not protecting ordinary people and so therefore there needs to be a fundamental review”, added Labor MP Jess Phillips.
Headquartered in London, Arcadia Group owns several high street brands, including Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, and Burton.
Photo credit: Slaven Vlasic / Getty images North America / AFP