Theresa May has today refused to back calls from MPs for Sir Philip Green to lose his knighthood after it was revealed allegations of bullying, sexual harassment and racism were made against him.
The billionaire was named as the tycoon who obtained an injunction at the Court of Appeal to stop the press reporting accusations from female former employees.
But Lord Hain yesterday used parliamentary privilege to name him in the House of Lords, causing outrage and widespread criticism.
Some MPs called for the Arcadia boss to lose his knighthood but the Prime Minister today refused to join their ranks.
A spokesman for No. 10 said it was up to the Honours Forfeiture Committee, which ‘constantly reviews evidence’ in such cases, to make the decision and would not comment on the incident specifically.
It comes as Labour MP Frank Field said he had been approached by a sixth female ‘victim’ who ‘wants to go public’ with her accusations but feared legal repercussions.
Meanwhile Conservative MP Maria Miller has revealed she is considering summoning Sir Philip before the Women and Equalities Select Committee regarding the accusations.
Sir Philip last said he would not comment on the allegations other than to ‘categorically and wholly deny’ any suggestion he was guilty.
Labour MP Frank Field, left, claims a sixth person has come forward alleging harassment and bullying against the billionaire, pictured right with daughter Chloe
Sir Philip Green, who built a business empire worth £4billion as boss of Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, was named in Parliament as the businessman who used gagging orders to allegedly ‘silence’ allegations from workers
Sir Philip lives a glamorous lifestyle, mixing with the country’s top models. There is no suggestion anyone pictured is involved in any of the allegations against him
Sir Philip was hauled before the work and pensions committee, pictured, in 2016, over the collapse of British Home Stores and engaged in a war of words with chairman Mr Field, whom he accused of ‘bias’ against him
Mr Field, pictured, said he wanted to urgently create a mechanism in Parliament to allow victims of abuse to have their voices heard
Mr Field, who has clashed in the past with the billionaire after previously hauling him in front of the works and pensions committee over the collapse of British Home Stores, said the woman claimed to witness ‘grotesque bullying’ from the Arcadia boss.
Speaking without parliamentary privilege, he told The Sun: ‘I have been talking this evening with somebody who witnessed grotesque bullying at work.
‘They would like what they witnessed to be shared, through the House of Commons, with the nation.
‘I am seeking to raise urgently with the Government the importance of having a mechanism in Parliament through which the voices of victims of [alleged] abuse can be heard.’
He added he wanted to help people ‘with little money’ in similar struggles against ‘those who have so much’.
Following calls for Sir Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood, Downing Street stressed that the Honours Forfeiture Committee was independent of Government.
‘They are constantly reviewing evidence in relation to matters like this,’ a Number 10 spokeswoman said.
She added that the Prime Minister had been clear on the wider issue that ‘bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law and that kind of behaviour can’t be tolerated’.
Who is the former Labour minister Peter Hain who named Philip Green in the Lords?
Peter Hain, the politician who named Sir Philip Green in the Lords today, is a veteran Labour minister who has served on the political front lines for almost 30 years.
Born in Kenya, Hain first rose to prominence as a leading anti-Apartheid campaigner disrupting rugby and cricket tours by all-white South African teams.
Hain, 68, entered Parliament in 1991 as MP for Neath and served in a series Cabinet posts under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Peter Hain, then Northern Ireland Secretary, in his office at the Stormont Assembly building in Belfast in 2007
In his most senior post, he served as Northern Ireland Secretary and acting First Minister of Northern Ireland during a period of direct rule in 2007.
A married father of two, Hain entered the House of Lords after the 2015 General Election.
Hain’s last brush with the law came during a bizarre contempt of court case in March 2012.
The then Attorney General of Northern Ireland John Larkin tried to prosecute Hain for comments in a book about a 2007 judicial review.
The case descended into farce when the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland tried to charge him with ‘scandalising the court’, an arcane 19th Century offence. The case was dropped a month before its trial date.
Mr Field also led calls for the businessman to lose his knighthood if the accusations are proven to be true.
He called for the retailer to join Fred Goodwin and Robert Mugabe in having his honour revoked. ‘The charge sheet against the knighthood is growing,’ he said.
‘Parliament and the country have made our views clear on this matter.’
Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader and former business secretary, said: ‘He narrowly and luckily escaped losing his knighthood over the pensions scandal [involving BHS]. If these allegations are correct, he should certainly be stripped of his knighthood.’
Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, told The Times: ‘I’m no fan of the gongs system full stop, but to allow Philip Green to call himself Sir literally devalues the entire thing. He is an embarrassment to our country.’
The accusations against the billionaire have not been proven in court or at a tribunal and in a statement issued last night, Sir Philip 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.’
Following the announcement, Twitter has been awash with shoppers saying they plan to boycott all of Sir Philip’s Arcadia Group stores, championing pink – representing feminism, over green – the retail mogul’s last name.
Another wrote: ‘Fully boycotting @Topshop #PinkNotGreen,’ while someone else posted: ‘Yet another reason to stop shopping in all his stores #pinknotgreen.’
Social media users were quick to comment on the last-minute dismantling of a feminist book display at Sir Philip’s Oxford Circus Topshop store recently.
But today many on Twitter came out against a boycott because it would harm employees and risk job losses.
One user wrote: ‘#PinkNotGreen trending on Twitter after Sir Philip Green named boycotting Topshop Arcadia group #PinkNotGreen this will only damage the 1000’s of workers in his stores let’s think about them. He’s a multi millionaire with fingers in lots of pies.’
Another said: ‘Philip Green has millions of ££ in the bank, boycotting his shops won’t hurt him personally but it will hurt his employees who will lose their jobs if sales plummet due to a boycott. #PinkNotGreen’.
Following calls made yesterday to boycott Sir Philip’s businesses including Topshop, many on social media have today rejected the idea claiming it would punish workers and risk job losses
The fashion chain was previously forced to apologise after Scarlett Curtis’s ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink’ vanished from the shop just 20 minutes after the stand was set up.
That day, Ms Curtis, who is the daughter of screenwriter Richard Curtis, started the #PinkNotGreen hashtag.
Sir Philip and Mr Field previously clashed in 2016 when the businessman appeared in Parliament over the £571million hole left in BHS’s pension fund.
He had sold it to Dominic Chappell a year earlier for just £1 but was widely criticised for the high street chain’s collapse.
Before appearing in front of the committee, the billionaire said Mr Field should resign as chairman due to ‘bias’ against him.
Mr Field then called for the businessman to lose his knighthood ahead of a non-binding vote from MPs in favour of such a motion.
The fashion chain tycoon was named in the House of Lords by former minister Lord Peter Hain
Green, pictured with disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein in 2009. There is no suggestion Sir Philip is linked to any of the allegations made about Weinstein
Sir Philip and billionaire wife Lady Tina, pictured on board their previous yacht on the French Riviera in 2014
After the very public war of words, Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363 million towards the pension deficit.
Last year they clashed again when Mr Field claimed to have ‘dynamite’ new evidence that would leave Sir Philip – known for his holidays aboard his £100million yacht – ‘seasick’.
Sir Philip then accused the Labour MP of making allegations ‘wholly without substance’ and his lawyers demanded an apology.
In a letter to the Labour MP for Birkenhead, Sir Philip wrote: ‘You seem intent on continuing your personal and bitter attacks on me, making allegations, in my view, wholly without substance.’
Mr Chappell was eventually found guilty of pensions offences and fined, but Mr Field criticised prosecutors for not ‘going after the whale’ – referring to Sir Philip.
The naming of Sir Philip in Parliament also sparked a backlash against the controversial legal cases by which the rich can gag newspapers and the media.
Maria Miller, chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, told MailOnline: ‘Given the huge influence Philip Green wields in the world of business it is surprising the Court of Appeal decided it wasn’t in the public interest to make public the string of payments that have been made.’
Sir Philip Green, pictured in Mayfair earlier this month (left) and (right) with his wife Tina
Sir Philip is now facing calls for him to be stripped of his knighthood (pictured wearing it with his wife Tina in 2006)
In the US the #MeToo movement was triggered by allegations emerging about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein (pictured with Green). There is no suggestion of any link between the two in regards to allegations against them
Sir Philip is also well known for enjoying holidays aboard his £115million yacht Lionheart, pictured, which is often spotted in the Mediterranean
Speaking about NDAs generally, she added: ‘It’s unacceptable that the current system allows the use of NDAs to cover up serial offenders and that cannot be allowed to continue.’
The Women and Equalities Committee is now considering calling Sir Philip to give evidence about the gagging order.
The cross-party committee will meet next week to decide whether the billionaire can be summoned to answer questions in Parliament.
The new head of independent watchdog the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Lord Evans, suggested the authorities would look at whether Sir Philip’s knighthood should remain.
‘There is a committee which looks at these issues,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘I am sure whenever the facts are out that they will want to consider whether that is the right answer.’
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to hasten measures to improve regulation around so-called gagging clauses in response to questions about the case.
The Prime Minister, who declined to speak about the Philip Green situation specifically, said some employers were using non-disclosure agreements ‘unethically’ as she criticised ‘abhorrent’ sexual harassment in the workplace.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Labour MP Jess Phillips asked Mrs May to comment on the use of NDAs to ‘silence’ accusers, adding: ‘It seems that our laws allow rich and powerful men to pretty much do whatever they want as long as they can pay to keep it quiet.’
Asked about the case after Sir Philip was named in the Lords, Theresa May’s official spokesman said today: ‘I don’t think there is any comment on that I can give on that.
‘The PM was asked in the House yesterday and said she couldn’t comment on the specific case but she set out in general the action the government is taking in relation to non-disclosure agreements.’
Asked if the PM has any position on peers who use parliamentary privilege to name suspects, he said: ‘The rules on parliamentary privilege are a matter for parliament, and how they exercise these rules is obviously a matter for individual members.’
Sir Philip is well-known throughout Britain as the boss of Arcadia, which includes huge brand names such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins.
The couple’s daughter Chloe, centre, is also often in the limelight through her relationship with the ‘Hot Felon’ Jeremy Meeks
The Green family are pictured here enjoying a holiday in Greece with Chloe’s boyfriend Jeremy Meeks, second right
Sir Philip, pictured with Kate Moss, previously had trouble when in charge of discount retailer Amber Day in the early 1990s, which he resigned as chairman of after poor financial results
The businessman made his name when buying and carving up the Sears empire in the late 1990s.
In 2004, he made a failed £9billion bid to buy iconic high street chain Marks and Spencer.
He has also been criticised for the pay and conditions of both overseas and UK workers in the production lines of clothes sold in his shops.
THE STARS WHO USED THEIR WEALTH TO HIDE THEIR AFFAIRS
A large number of household names have secured injunctions to hide their affairs – often using their families and children as a reason to keep their extramarital sex secret.
Here are the ones we still cannot name:
The married celebrity
Known as PJS, or the ‘olive oil bath threesome’ celebrity after lower courts initially refused him a privacy injunction because his cheating contradicted his public portrayal of married commitment.
The star footballer
Household name who used an injunction to hush up claims he cheated on his partner with another celeb.
Leading actor, married, a father. Cheated on his wife with Helen Wood, same prostitute who slept with Wayne Rooney. Helen Wood claims she had sexual relationship with the actor, whom she met through an acquaintance.
The ‘figure of trust’
A high profile celebrity woman described as a ‘figure of trust’ was granted an injunction in Manchester in May last year to prevent her lover from leaking details of her affair with a famous married man to the press.
The football manager
A married Premier League boss is currently threatening to gag The Sun over an alleged secret lover. He is the same manager who previously won a court order banning revelations about another affair.
The ‘high profile figure’
Obtained an injunction to stop a woman revealing details of sexual encounters which took place in his home, because it would be ‘very distressing for his family’ to hear of them.
The top footballer
Married with children, the Premier League star took out an injunction to stop his philandering becoming known.
The ‘world famous sportsman’
A multimillionaire sportsman – not a footballer – he is married and a father, but won an order to suppress any suggestions of an ‘extra marital affair’.
The TV celebrity
The household name star and ‘family’ man was allowed to suppress ‘intimate’ photos of him with a woman with a permanent gagging order – previously reserved for killer children – and the woman was even told she had a ‘duty of confidence’ to the celebrity.
A well-known married man working in the entertainment industry who had an affair with a colleague.
The Premier League star
An international star with a long-standing partner, he hushed up claims of ‘illicit sex’ with a woman.
And the ones we can name..
2001 – won injunction
Flitcroft, millionaire father of a seven-month-old daughter, spent £200,000 on his court battle to stop a Sunday newspaper publishing details of his secret relationships with a lapdancer and nursery nurse.
It ended in 2002 when the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, turned down a final plea from the player’s lawyers for his anonymity to be continued after learning that Flitcroft himself had negotiated with another newspaper to sell his version of events.
He had also told his wife, Karen, something about the affairs.
Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler
2003 – failed injunction
Liverpool stars tried to block claims they had threesome with a woman.
2004 – failed injunction
Ordered lawyers to seek injunction against Sky broadcasting Rebecca Loos interview, but no injunction was granted. His former personal assistant claimed she had a four-month affair with him, which he denies.
Beckham’s lawyers said she was breaking a confidentiality agreement.
18 January 2008 – won injunction
Andrew Marr used a gagging order to hush up an extra-marital affair- and was the first public figure voluntarily to admit trying to conceal his infidelity.
Mr Marr won a High Court injunction in January 2008 to suppress reports of a relationship with a fellow journalist five years earlier.
At the time, he believed he had fathered a child with the woman. He also made maintenance payments – until he discovered through a DNA test that he was not the girl’s father.
25 Jan 2010 – injunction ordered – scrapped four days later
The Chelsea skipper is claimed to have cheated behind his wife’s back. The England captain married Toni Poole in 2007.
The Chelsea star had initially used human rights laws to obtain a gagging order against the press, claiming his right to a ‘private and family life’.
But the judge who threw out the order said he thought Terry was more concerned about the threat to his lucrative sponsorship deals.
6 Oct 2010 – injunction granted
Jeremy Clarkson lifted his own a gagging order preventing his ex-wife from claiming they had an affair after he remarried.
The Top Gear presenter won an injunction last year banning Alex Hall from revealing intimate details of their relationship, including allegations that they had sex after Clarkson wed his second wife Francie.
At the time the father of three could be described only as ‘a married TV star’ and his first wife’s identity was kept secret as he became the latest figure to use the courts to protect his privacy.
Clarkson decided to unmask himself after concluding: ‘Injunctions don’t work – it’s pointless
14 April 2011 – injunction granted in High Court
Ryan Giggs paid the price for his secrecy battle as Parliament launched a dramatic fightback against the judiciary.
John Hemming’s intervention in 2011, applauded by fellow MPs, ended the Manchester United star’s fight to maintain his reputation as a faithful husband – despite an alleged affair with model Imogen Thomas.
Less than 24 hours earlier, 37-year-old Giggs had presented his wife Stacey and two young children to a 76,000-strong crowd at Old Trafford and a global television audience.
It later emerged he had an affair with his brother’s wife – and his wife Stacey left him this year after allegations he flirted with a PR girl.