British retail tycoon Philip Green reportedly paid settlements to at least seven women to silence sexual harassment claims against him, some of which amounted to millions of pounds.
As part of the payouts the alleged victims were prevented from speaking about their claims against the head of Arcadia Group.
Green’s behavior, according to an inside source who spoke to the Guardian, included lewd comments to women, lengthy hugs to female workers who he often addressed as “sweetheart” and “darling” instead of using their names, as well as comments on female employees’ weight.
“One thing that he said and did a lot, was walk into meeting rooms unannounced, because that is his vibe, and he would ask the women in the room, were they behaving, were they being naughty girls, and did they need their bottom slapped. That is almost his standard way of introducing himself into a room,” the source told the paper.
“There were lots of hugs with women, particularly with senior women. I would describe them as overly long, lingering hugs.”
Green would also “creep up behind women who were walking along the corridor in the office and shout ‘Boo!’ or something to make them jump, and then to ‘calm them down’ put his hands on their shoulders and rub them in a weird kind of massage.”
When a female employee asked to be called by her name and not “sweetheart,” Green allegedly told her to “shut the fuck up.”
“He would make a lot of comments about women being overweight. A lot of them weren’t overweight but they just didn’t fit his standard,” the source said.
A British politician used Parliament’s free-speech guarantee Thursday to identify Topshop owner Green as the businessman accused of sexual harassment who had secured a court order barring the media from revealing his identity.
Green, the son of a middle class London Jewish family, is chairman of Arcadia Group, which owns brands including Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge, as well as Topshop. He was named in the House of Lords by Labour politician Peter Hain.
Green had obtained a court injunction to stop the Daily Telegraph from running stories about employee allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse.
In a statement issued after Hain spoke, Green said, “To the extent that it is suggested that I have been guilty of unlawful sexual or racist behavior, I categorically and wholly deny these allegations.”
The Court of Appeal issued the publication prohibition this week, saying the five alleged victims had been “compromised” because they signed non-disclosure agreements as part of settlement packages in which they received substantial payments.
The injunction prevented the media from naming Green, but lawmakers’ words in Parliament are immune from legal action under an exemption known as parliamentary privilege.