Sir Philip Green has been accused of “slapping, kissing and groping” a woman and telling a black male employee that he looked like he was “throwing spears in the jungle”, it has been reported.
The retail tycoon allegedly paid the female executive more than £1m to stay quiet, the Daily Telegraph reported after the businessman dropped legal action against the newspaper.
Sir Philip also allegedly dragged a woman around in a headlock and smashed a male employee’s mobile phone, the newspaper said.
Details of the allegations against Sir Philip involving five employees were revealed online by the Telegraph after his legal action against the paper ended at the High Court earlier on Friday.
Sir Philip has categorically denied the allegations, insisting he never meant to cause offence.
Earlier on Friday he accused the paper of “pursuing a vendetta” against him and his staff and said former employees whose allegations were investigated by the newspaper were under “ongoing obligations” to honour non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
Lawyers representing Sir Philip told the Telegraph: “It is further denied that any of Sir Philip’s conduct towards employees amounted to any type of crime, or anything that would amount to gross misconduct, or a serious risk to health and safety.”
According to the paper the Arcadia boss paid out millions in settlements with staff members, who include a senior female executive who was allegedly called a “naughty girl” by Sir Philip.
The newspaper said he allegedly kissed her face on a number of occasions, slapped her bottom and made comments about her weight.
Reports claim that Sir Philip also allegedly drew attention to the dreadlocks of a senior male executive in front of other staff, and referred to him “throwing spears in the jungle”.
And the paper reported he was told not to come any closer by a woman whose face he is said to have grabbed, allegedly dragged another senior female staff member around in a headlock and allegedly smashed a male staff member’s mobile phone in an aggressive dressing down.
The court injunction was first sought after Sir Philip and an executive at his Arcadia firm were contacted by a Telegraph journalist in July last year.
The newspaper intended to publish allegations of misconduct made against Sir Philip by the employees – who all received substantial payments after settling their claims.
In all five cases, the employees had agreed to keep the details of their complaints confidential under NDAs.
Sir Philip obtained the injunction, but last week it emerged that he was dropping the case because it was “pointless” after he was named in Parliament as the businessman behind an injunction against the newspaper.
Lawyers representing the Topshop owner said the decision was prompted by Lord Hain’s identification of Sir Philip in the House of Lords in October last year, a day after the Telegraph ran a front-page story saying it was prevented from naming a “mystery businessman”.
In a ruling in London on Friday, Mr Justice Warby granted Sir Philip and two of his companies permission to discontinue the proceedings – which was needed because of the injunction.
However, the judge declined to impose conditions to stop Sir Philip and the companies suing either the Telegraph or the former employees in future, as requested by the newspaper.
In his judgment, the judge said lawyers representing the Telegraph had said Sir Philip’s “unlawful” conduct was “sufficiently serious to engage the public interest, including as it does unwanted contact of a sexual nature; general sexual harassment; racist language; and intimidation and bullying; many amounting to criminal offences, and all having serious consequences for employees in particular for their health and wellbeing”.
Additional reporting from agencies