Why has Sir Philip Green been named - despite court order?

Sir Philip Green has been named as the businessman at the centre of a sexual harassment and racial abuse storm.

Details of the allegations were apparently buried in non-disclosure agreements (NDA) signed by the victims.

An additional court injunction forbade Sir Philip being named in public, but Lord Hain identified Sir Philip as the businessman in question during a sitting of the Lords.

So how did we get to this stage?

  • Why couldn't Sir Philip be named?

A court injunction has barred the media from naming Sir Philip. Credit: PA

The Telegraph newspaper has spent eight months looking into allegations against the retail billionaire.

The paper claims the businessman had originally signed a number of NDAs with the alleged victims, meaning that they could not speak out.

But, at a High Court ruling earlier this year, a judge found that it was in the public interest to name Sir Philip.

However, a subsequent Court of Appeal ruling on Tuesday then overturned that finding, ruling that the confidentiality of contracts was more important than freedom of speech.

This resulted in an interim injunction being imposed, effectively gagging the newspaper and other media.

  • So why has Lord Hain now named him?

Lord Hain, a former Labour MP, named Sir Philip during a sitting of the House of Lords on Thursday.

This is what he said: "My Lords, having been contacted by someone intimately involved in the case of a powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying, which is compulsively continuing, I feel it's my duty under parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the individual in question given that the media have been subject to an injunction preventing publication of the full details of this story which is clearly in the public interest."

As Lord Hain stated, he named Sir Philip under what is known as Parliamentary privilege.

In effect, Parliamentary privilege grants MPs in the Commons and Lords certain legal immunities which allow them to perform their duties "without interference from outside of the House" - i.e. naming Sir Philip without backlash from the courts.

The concept derives from the 1689 Bill of Rights which provides that the proceedings of Parliament "may not be impeached or questioned" by any court.

The Parliament website puts it like this: "Parliamentary privilege includes freedom of speech and the right of both Houses to regulate their own affairs."

  • The cat is out of the bag, but are the media still gagged?

Sir Philip owns Topshop and Topman. Credit: PA

Technically, the injunction against naming Sir Philip still stands, but the fact that Parliamentary privilege has been used has meant that the information which the order was designed to protect has now been made public.

Proceedings from inside the Commons and Lords, provided they are fair and accurate, are free to be reported by the media and are similarly protected by privilege.

In addition, the proceedings were broadcast on live parliamentary television.