The Telegraph to reveal #MeToo allegations against Sir Philip Green

Sir Philip Green
// Sir Philip Green’s legal case against The Telegraph formally ends
// Green was seeking damages for a story that implicated him in a #MeToo scandal
// End of legal proceedings means the injunction on The Telegraph has been lifted
// The Telegraph set to report details of the allegations made against the Topshop tycoon

The Daily Telegraph has said it plans to uncover details of sexual harassment and bullying allegations made against retail tycoon Sir Philip Green after the High Court case he brought against them was formally dropped.

The newspaper said it also intended to report on how the claims were allegedly covered by by Arcadia Group, the retail empire owned by Green.

Earlier today, the High Court formally allowed Green to abandon his court action against The Telegraph which had prevented them from reporting allegations of sexual assault and racial harassment.

The formal end to the proceedings comes after Green himself announced last month that he would discontinue the legal action against the newspaper.

He originally sought damages for a Telegraph story that placed him at the centre of a #MeToo scandal for the City.

However, at the High Court today, Justice Warby ordered Green to pay the bulk of The Telegraph’s legal fees, which is reportedly around £3 million.

Justice Warby said the conduct of Green and his business in continuing to pursue the legal action over the past few months was “well outside the norm”.

His ruling also means that Green’s injunction has now been dropped, which is why The Telegraph now intends to reveal details of the allegations made against him “in the coming days”.

In October last year, the newspaper ran a front page article that levelled allegations towards an unnamed businessman for bullying, racially abusing and sexually harassing staff.

Lawyers representing Arcadia had been granted an interim injunction that prevented the media outlet from naming him as the mystery businessman.

Days later, Lord Peter Hain used parliamentary privilege to identify Green in the House of Lords, saying it was his duty to do so because of the “serious and repeated” nature of the allegations after he was contacted “by someone intimately involved in the case”.

The revelation subsequently dominated headlines for several weeks, and lead to renewed calls for Green’s knighthood to be stripped along with a social media campaign to boycott Topshop, which is owned by Arcadia.

However, Justice Warby did not hand down a judgement on the public interest in whistleblowing on sexual and racial abuse and whether that should outweigh the confidentiality of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

He also provided minimal legal protection for Green’s alleged victims.

Arcadia said in a statement that while it was “pleased” with today’s judgement, it threatened legal action if the alleged victims now speak out.

“The ruling recognised that the signatories to the NDAs have ongoing obligations to honour those agreements, which they entered into willingly after receiving full independent legal advice about their rights and responsibilities,” Arcadia stated.

The Telegraph knowingly and shamefully coaxed these individuals to breach their obligations under these lawful agreements.

“The Court of Appeal when granting the injunction to protect the confidential information in October confirmed the agreements were lawful and made clear that NDAs play an important and legitimate role in settling commercial disputes, particularly in an employment context, and should be respected.”

Arcadia went on to say that The Telegraph had breached its duty of confidentiality to its sources and pursued a vendetta against Green and Arcadia employees and management for the past nine months.

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. Their fate is now in The Telegraph’s hands.”

Meanwhile, Westminster Palace is expected to face renewed pressure to introduce new laws to stop NDAs being used to silence victims of sexual and racial abuse.

Campaigners had hoped Arcadia’s legal case against The Telegraph would set a precedent but the decision to formally end the proceedings before trial started meant that the law was not tested.

In a statement, The Telegraph editor Chris Evans said: “We are delighted the injunction has been lifted but our campaign against the misuse of NDAs goes on. And now, we look to the government to act.

“In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein affair, we became aware that gagging orders called NDAs were being used to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct and racial abuse in the workplace. And that led to our investigation into Sir Philip Green and Arcadia.

“We maintain there is a clear public interest in telling people whether a prospective employer has been accused of abuse. And for all we know, there may be people out there who have been victims of criminal offences at work but who don’t believe they can complain to the police because they’ve signed NDAs.

“The courts, for one reason or another, have not been able to resolve this issue. All those who were subject to NDAs after complaining of sexual misconduct and racial abuse remain subject to NDAs.

“Sir Philip has described the allegations against him as no more than banter. If that’s so, he should release his accusers from their NDAs and allow them to speak freely.

“The most notable achievement of the courts during this process has been to slap an injunction on The Telegraph, which made it even harder for us to disclose allegations which were clearly in the public interest. And an injunction is perhaps another kind of non-disclosure agreement.

“The Prime Minister has already indicated that she is uneasy with the way in which NDAs have been used. We ask her now to do something about it.”

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