Billionaire businessman Sir Philip Green was today named in Parliament as the man accused of sexual harassment and racial abuse by a newspaper.
A court injunction had prevented the Daily Telegraph from naming him, but Labour peer Lord Peter Hain used parliamentary privilege to identify him in the Lords.
He said it was his duty to do so, due to the “serious and repeated nature” of the allegations against the owner of Top Shop and other high street retail chains.
The Telegraph was preparing to run its story containing allegations about Sir Philip when his legal team obtained the injunction on Tuesday.
Publication of his name was blocked by Appeal Court judges and although the injunction remains in place Lord Hain’s intervention has placed it in the public domain.
He was able to do so because parliamentary privilege gives MPs and peers protection from prosecution over statements made in the Commons or Lords.
One of the oldest rights in British law, it allows MPs and Lords to speak without fear of legal action for contempt of court, slander or a breach of the Official Secrets Act.
The Daily Telegraph spent eight months investigating allegations against Sir Philip by his staff and Lord Hain said publication was “clearly in the public interest”.
He said he decided to name Sir Philip in the Lords after being contacted by an individual “intimately involved” in the case.
Lord Hain told the Lords Sir Philip had been accused of “sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying” by victims, based on evidence gathered by the Telegraph.
They were then allegedly paid “substantial sums” in compensation in exchange for signing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
Lord Hain said that because NDAs were used “to conceal the truth” it was his duty to name Sir Philip under parliamentary privilege as the individual at the centre of the allegations.
After being named, Sir Philip issued a statement “categorically and wholly” denying the allegations.
He said: “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.”
Sir Philip is a ‘rags to riches’ businessman who built a huge retail empire, owning major street names including Topshop, BHS, Burton and Miss Selfridge.
But his sale of BHS and its subsequent collapse cost 12,000 staff their jobs and left 20,000 facing reduced pensions due to a huge deficit in the fund.
He eventually paid out more than £360m to plug the hole in the BHS pension fund but still faced calls for him to be stripped of his knighthood.