Sir Philip Green Named By Peter Hain As Businessman At Centre Of Sexual Harassment And Racial Abuse Scandal

It comes weeks after a feminist stall at Topshop's flagship store was abruptly taken down...

Philip Green

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Updated on

Sir Philip Green has been named by Labour peer Peter Hain as the businessman who has spent £500,000 trying to keep secret the allegations that he has bullied, sexually harassed and racially abused members of staff.

Using the might of money, seven lawyers and several non-disclosure agreements (NDAs, which promise secrecy), the man at the centre of the allegations kept the Telegraph, who’d been investigating the allegations for 8 months, from publishing details about him. No-one could name him, or his companies, as having anything to do with this scandal, or anything he was accused of doing to the alleged victims and how much he paid them to sign the NDAs. But all that was blown out of the water when Lord Hain named Green as That Guy..

Using parliamentary privilege - which means MPs and Lords can say things that normals can say. The ex-MP spoke up in the House of Lords to ‘out’ Green. MP Jess Phillips had previously threatened to name the businessman in the Commons, but said she would only do so when all of the alleged victims gave her their say-so.

Green has long fallen from favour in the public eye. Infamously spending oodles on his lavish birthdays, hosting an array of celebrities from Kate Moss to Gwyneth Paltrow, he’s long courted publicity to positive effect, and will now be feeling its negative edge more so than ever.

Green helped contribute to a half billion pound black hole in BHS’s pensions, after selling the company for £1 to Dominic Chappell, who simply wasn’t up to the job. The also has long been accused of ruling the Topshop empire like a tyrant - allegations which were detailed in a book called Damaged Goods, written by Oliver Shah and released earlier this year.

The fallout is still going on - will people boycott Topshop? Will we find out the further detail of the allegations? Will the £500,000 he spent to keep this secret have gone to waste, especially when you consider his recently donation of £25,000 - a relative drop in the ocean - to Girl Up? The money was sent to the girls’ charity after a pretty inoffensive stall to promote it, along with writer Scarlet Curtis’s book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Myths was taken down from Topshop's Oxford Circus store.

Topshop’s official statement was that it was a ‘creative’ decision to remove the stall, but at the same time, it would be understandable if Green wasn’t really into promoting a book with the same publisher as Shah’s recent hatchet job on him. Another theory was that he wasn’t keen having ‘feminist’ emblazoned in his store, because, well, it isn't a great look when you are (if Lord Hain is to be believed) in the process of mounting certain legal actions.

Whether Green is a feminist or not isn't really up for debate, but what has been up for discussion, and continues to be, is how ethical it is for anyone, no matter how rich, to effectively buy people's silence. Sure, NDAs should be used to keep company secrets, but what if the company secret is a set of allegations of a really serious nature? What if the company secret is that people are - allegedly - being hurt in some way?

After Jess Phillips asked Theresa May at PMQs: ‘Does the Prime Minister support the court of appeals’ decision to ban Non-Disclosure Agreements which have been used to silence women who have been sexually harassed and others who have been racially abused?’, the Prime Minister promised to consult on a change to the law, so that NDAs can’t be used to stifle allegations of illegal behaviour. And not a moment too soon.

UPDATE: Green has since released a statement: 'I am not commenting on anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today.

'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. Arcadia and I 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.'

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