British fashion mogul Sir Philip Green’s reputation lies in tatters after he was named as the businessman at the center of sexual harassment and racist abuse claims.
The 66-year-old billionaire, whose daughter has a son with American ‘hot felon’ Jeremy Meeks, was unmasked in Parliament on Thursday as the mystery man at the center of the growing scandal.
Sir Philip, chairman of the Topshop fashion empire, had used controversial gagging orders on former staff to secure a court injunction banning a newspaper from reporting their bullying allegations, which he strongly denies.
But the court gag order was blown apart when former government minister Lord Peter Hain used parliamentary privilege rules to name Sir Philip in defiance of the legal restrictions.
Though Britain lacks the rigorous free speech protections of America, and allows courts to muzzle journalists on certain legal proceedings, the country’s parliamentary rules grant legal immunity to members of Parliament while speaking in the course of proceedings.
In a bombshell statement in the House of Lords, Labour party peer Lord Hain said it was ‘clearly in the public interest’ that the allegations were aired.
He said the case involved ‘substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying which is compulsively continuing’.
The allegations of ‘racist abuse’ are especially shocking in light of the relationship between Sir Philip’s daughter Chloe Green and Meeks, a biracial fashion model and convicted felon who is barred from entering Britain.
Chloe Green gave birth to the couple’s first child, a boy, in May.
After Lord Hain’s bombshell speech in Parliament, Sir Philip issued a statement strongly denying the misconduct allegations.
‘I am not commenting on anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today,’ he 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.’
The statement added that like all large companies, his operations ‘sometimes receives formal complaints from employees’ and settles them confidentially.
The revelation in Parliament leaves the Topshop, Burtons and Dorothy Perkins boss, who spent decades amassing a huge fortune, fighting for his reputation and battling to keep hold of his knighthood.
People across Britain and beyond have since threatened to boycott his Arcadia Group empire with the hashtag #PinkNotGreen.
It comes after appeal court judges sparked anger with a controversial order blocking the Daily Telegraph from publishing details of allegations made by former employees.
It is said five of Sir Philip’s former staff members signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in which they agreed to remain silent over their claims.
The newspaper said it learned of the secret deals while investigating separate claims of bullying and intimidation.
The three appeal judges ruled the information was likely to be in breach of the NDAs and imposed an injunction preventing publication of the allegations until a full High Court hearing could be heard.
However, laws on free speech in Parliament mean politicians cannot face legal action for speaking in the House of Commons or Lords, and everything said there can be published.
Although he has not been found to have committed any wrongdoing, the revelation that Sir Philip is the man at the center of the injunction case will revive previous calls for the billionaire to be stripped of his knighthood.
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable told MailOnline: ‘He narrowly and luckily escaped losing his knighthood over the pensions scandal. If these allegations are correct, he should certainly be stripped of his knighthood.’
He said the naming of Sir Philip in Parliament showed ‘democracy at work’.
The naming of Sir Philip in Parliament also sparked a backlash against the controversial legal cases by which the rich can gag newspapers and the media.
Maria Miller, chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, told MailOnline: ‘Given the huge influence Philip Green wields in the world of business it is surprising the Court of Appeal decided it wasn’t in the public interest to make public the string of payments that have been made.’
Speaking about NDAs generally, she added: ‘It’s unacceptable that the current system allows the use of NDAs to cover up serial offenders and that cannot be allowed to continue.’
Tweeting after Lord Hain’s statement, Conservative Deputy Chairman James Cleverly said: ‘As Lord Hain names Sir Philip Green in the House of Lords today, people must now realise that injunctions and super-injunctions are nothing more than a good way to part with large sums of money and a bad way to keep things secret.’
Sir Philip is well-known throughout Britain as the boss of Arcadia, the parent company of huge brand names such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins.
The wheeler-dealer made his name when buying and carving up the Sears empire in the late 1990s.
In 2004, he made a failed £9billion bid to buy iconic high street chain Marks and Spencer.
He was then thrust into the public eye in 2016 after famous brand British Home Stores collapsed a year after he sold it for just £1.
The company had a £571 million pension hole when it went under, with 19,000 former workers facing severe pension shortfalls
Amid public outcry over the situation, Sir Philip agreed to pay £363million into the pension fund.
He has also been criticised for the pay and conditions of both overseas and UK workers in the production lines of clothes sold in his shops.
A High Court judge originally refused to gag the Telegraph over the non-disclosure agreement case, but that decision was overturned on appeal.
Appeal judges Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Henderson caused anger when they imposed an interim injunction this week.
They said that, in all five cases, complaints had been ‘compromised by settlement agreements’ under which ‘substantial payments’ were made to the employees who had complained.
They said there was a ‘real prospect’ that publication of the details would cause substantial and possible irreversible harm to Sir Philip Green and his companies.
Yesterday, British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to hasten measures to improve regulation around so-called gagging clauses in response to questions about the case.
The Prime Minister said some employers were using non-disclosure agreements ‘unethically’ as she criticised ‘abhorrent’ sexual harassment in the workplace.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Labour MP Jess Phillips asked Mrs May to comment on the use of NDAs to ‘silence’ accusers, adding: ‘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.’
Asked about the case after Sir Philip was named in the Lords, Theresa May’s official spokesman said today: ‘I don’t think there is any comment on that I can give on that.
‘The PM was asked in the House yesterday and said she couldn’t comment on the specific case but she set out in general the action the government is taking in relation to non-disclosure agreements.’
Asked if the PM has any position on peers who use parliamentary privilege to name suspects, he said: ‘The rules on parliamentary privilege are a matter for Parliament, and how they exercise these rules is obviously a matter for individual members.’
Billionaire Sir Philip Green has become one of Britain’s most wealthy businessmen who enjoys lavish parties and the high life – but has endured some controversies along the way.
He is worth around £4billion as the boss of Arcadia, making his fortune by selling clothes to women through huge brand names including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins.
Sir Philip was born in north London on March 15 1952 and was educated at Carmel College in Oxford, while inheriting the family business at the age of twelve after his father died.
He left school at 15 to begin his ascent in the business world, making his way through clothing companies before eventually buying Arcadia and its raft of brands in 2002 with wife Lady Tina through her company Taveta Investments.
The wealth has allowed him to enjoy the high life and purchase a £115million yacht, while spending downtime at lavish star-studded parties with celebrity friends such as Kate Moss, or holidaying in the Mediterranean.
But the naming of the businessman in Parliament as the mogul involved in the #MeToo scandal is not the first time he has been accused of harassment and bullying women.
Earlier this year a book claimed the retail king, 66, had ‘reduced women to tears’ during his time running British Home Stores and previous businesses including discount firm Amber Day.
He allegedly told Leslie Warman, a director at Amber Day: ‘If you don’t shut your f****** mouth, I’ll get my friends from south of the river to come for you and your family.’
The billionaire is also alleged to have commented on the weight of a woman working as a buyer at the chain.
According to the book, Damaged Goods, by Oliver Shah, which was previewed in the Sunday Times, he told her: ‘You’re absolutely f****** useless. I should throw you out of the window but you’re so fat you’d probably bounce back in again.’
The former head of menswear at BHS, Brain Hill, said staff – ‘particularly’ young women – reduced to tears.
He added: ‘Philip would often have a meeting before he flew off in his jet to Monaco and he would just pick one person and batter them. The horrible thing is sometimes you would sit there and think, ‘Thank God it’s not me’.’
Burton’s brand director, Wesley Taylor, also claimed he was racially abused by Green, which Green denied.
But the two settled the dispute out of court.
Responding to the claims, which he denied, Sir Philip described the alleged Warman incident is ‘b*******’ and rejected the claim he made racist remarks to Taylor.
He added: ‘If you employ 40,000 to 50,000 people you have arguments from time to time. That’s how it goes.’
After leaving boarding school at 15, Sir Philip worked for a shoe importer before travelling to the US, Europe and the Far East.
Sir Philip made his money in the rag trade in 1970s, taking a £20,000 loan from his family’s bank manager when he was 21 to help him buy and sell clothing.
One of his first major deals was buying Bonanza Jeans and Jean Jeannie before selling them to Lee Cooper in 1986 for £3m.
He then encountered controversy when he was forced out of discount retailer Amber Day in 1992, where he was chairman and chief executive, after a collapse in shares and profits. He later suffered a heart attack.
Another coup was to snap up Sears retailing business for £548m. Past purchases include Owen Owen, Olympus Sportswear and Shoe Express.
He was embroiled in controversy in the late 1990s when he tried to put together a takeover of struggling Marks & Spencer. It emerged his wife had shares in the company and this was used as ammunition against his bid.
But his ownership of British Home Stores was his most controversial business move.
He took over the business for £200m in 2000 but after poor financial results he eventually offloaded it for just £1 to Dominic Chappell in 2014. It collapsed less than a year later leaving a £571 million pension hole.
It left 19,000 former workers facing severe pension shortfalls and triggered a public outcry over his handling of the business.
MPs called for Sir Philip to lose his knighthood, but he agreed to pay £363million into the pension fund.
Sir Philip was also hauled before the work and pensions committee under scrutiny from MPs, and was engaged in a war of words with committee chairman Frank Field, whom he said should resign over ‘bias’.
The billionaire told MPs he ‘did everything he could’ to ensure the success of the business and that he thought it went to a ‘good buyer’.
Chappell, who had no retail experience, was charged over the collapse of the pension scheme with three counts of neglecting or refusing to provide documents contrary to the Pensions Act 2004.
After a trial in January this year Chappell was found guilty and ordered to pay more than £87,000, including a £50,000 fine.
Sir Philip has avoided the limelight more recently – unlike his daughter Chloe, 26, who has dated Jeremy Meeks, a US criminal banned from entering Britain known as the ‘Hot Felon’.
Sir Philip has also been criticised for the pay and conditions of both overseas and UK workers by anti-sweatshop groups such as Labour Behind the Label, No Sweat and the student activist network People & Planet.
Speaking at the time, an Arcadia spokesman said: ‘Arcadia has a clear code of conduct to which all of its suppliers sign up. This code sets out rigorous processes and best practice for the use of labour everywhere we operate.
‘The factories we work with are also used by other well-respected retailers and, like them, we have teams who regularly inspect these sites. We take such inspections seriously and constantly review all suppliers of product to the group.’
Sir Philip splits his time between the UK and Monaco and is also frequently seen aboard his £115million yacht.
He also enjoys trips aboard the vessel, the Lionheart, to Greece and the Mediterranean.
Sir Philip is married to Lady Tina Green, another billionaire, and they have two children – Chloe and her brother Brandon.
Lady Tina owns Jersey-registered Taveta Investments, which owns 92 per cent of Arcadia, and the couple have been criticised previously over their tax arrangements because of their Monaco residence.
In 2010 it even prompted demonstrations in Topshop in Oxford Street by campaigners alleging they were avoiding playing income tax by working in the UK but living abroad.
Sir Philip is also well-known for hosting lavish parties for his friends and families frequently attended by celebrity friends including supermodel Kate Moss.
For his son’s bar mitzvah in 2005, he spent £4 million on a three-day event for over 200 friends and family in the French Riviera. He also hired Andrea Bocelli and Destiny’s Child to perform.
For his nephew, Matt, he threw a bar mitzvah at Madame Tussauds, where Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh were guests and One Direction performed.
Matt and Chloe shared a birthday party in December 2011, at One Mayfair, where Rihanna sang, and many personal friends of the family attended.
The star-studded bash was featured in the national press and cost more than £1 million.