Sensational harassment allegations levelled against Sir Philip Green by former staff were revealed last night.
The Topshop tycoon faced a barrage of claims that he intimidated employees, groped women in front of their colleagues and even put a female executive in a headlock and dragged her round the room.
In another incendiary allegation, Sir Philip is said to have told a black worker he was still ‘throwing spears in the jungle’.
More than a dozen employees came forward to claim the 66-year-old billionaire had threatened to throw them out of windows or off balconies. He allegedly smashed the phone of a senior executive who had not reported in with updates on his work.
Another boss said Sir Philip called her a ‘naughty girl’ and ‘grabbed her bum’. She later received a £1million payout.
The details of complaints made by former employees emerged after the businessman finally dropped a court injunction that had prevented the media reporting the claims of sexual and racial harassment. The humiliating U-turn leaves him with a £3million legal bill – and the prospect of even more claims becoming public.
However the 66-year-old billionaire told his accusers to stick to the non-disclosure agreements they signed when they left his firm – or face ‘further legal actions and significant losses’.
His threat triggered a string of MPs to call on the Government to prevent NDAs from being used by ‘rich, powerful men’ to silence their accusers.
The row began last August when the Daily Telegraph tried to publish details of accusations by five former employees of Sir Philip’s Arcadia group, which controls brands including Topshop and Miss Selfridge. All had left and signed NDAs that, in theory, prevented them from telling their story.
The newspaper was stopped from publishing details of the allegations because Sir Philip gained a temporary injunction that also protected his identity. The court said publication of his name could cause ‘substantial and possibly irreversible harm’.
The list of accusations – labelled Britain’s #metoo scandal – was said to include ‘intimidation and bullying; many amounting to criminal offences’. Sir Philip was identified as the businessman at the centre of the case when Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to name him in the House of Lords.
The Daily Mail revealed last week that Sir Philip had finally decided to ditch efforts to keep the injunction in place.
Yesterday, the High Court allowed him to formally finalise this climbdown in his legal action against the Telegraph Media Group.
Lifting the injunction, Mr Justice Warby branded the tycoon’s decision after months of wrangling as ‘well outside the norm’.
He said only one of the former staff members wanted information about their experience published.
The five, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had accepted substantial sums from Arcadia after complaining about Sir Philip’s behaviour.
By dropping the case, he avoided being questioned in the High Court in an impending hearing to consider the public interest in the story.
But in a statement issued after yesterday’s court hearing, Sir Philip and Arcadia said: ‘The Telegraph has pursued a vendetta against Sir Philip Green and the employees and management of Arcadia Group.
‘The Telegraph and its owners must now decide whether to do the decent thing and respect the NDAs. If not, they will expose their sources to potential further legal actions and significant losses.’
Independent MP Frank Field, who held the tycoon to account over the BHS pensions scandal, said the threats amounted to bullying. Sir Philip has always strenuously denied harassment.
Maria Miller, who chairs Parliament’s women and equality committee, said: ‘NDAs cannot be used to cover up criminal wrongdoing or unlawful behaviour.’
Penny Mordaunt, who is minister for women and equalities, promised action on NDAs – without saying when.
Recordings of phone calls in which Sir Philip threatened journalists and said he would bankrupt the Daily Telegraph also emerged yesterday.
Originally published at Daily Mail