‘I’m being used as target practice… it’s a horror story’: Sir Philip Green denies harassment allegations

Lord Hain named Sir Philip Green in the House of Lords. Credit: PA

Sir Philip Green has repeated his denied allegations of racial abuse and sexual harassment.

After being named in Parliament as the businessman at the centre of the #MeToo claims, Sir Philip complained he had been used for “target practice”.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, he described the past days as a “horror story” and said the furore was “injuring” his business.

“I’m very, very upset. I’m being used as target practice. It’s injuring my business, all the people potentially working in the business, and it’s injuring me and my family,” he said.

“It’s a horror story. Somebody can say whatever they like and people just follow you around, chasing you and harassing you.

“I’ve been in business for more than 40 years. There has obviously from time to time been some banter and a bit of humour, but as far as I’m concerned there was never any intent to be offensive.

“I believe I have a good relationship with all my staff. In all that time, until the recent issues, I’ve not had one litigation or complaint.

“If anything I’ve said has caused offence, I’m happy to apologise. Nothing I’ve said was ever meant to be offensive.

“The whole thing is distressing. I repeat I have never, ever sexually harassed anybody. It’s nonsense.”

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The peer who named Sir Philip as the target of allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse, Lord Hain, said on Saturday he “stands resolutely” with his actions in the wake of a formal complaint made against him.

“I stand resolutely by what I've said and neither retract nor apologise for standing up for human rights", he said.

It follows Sir Philip's statement on Friday that he will be making a complaint to the House of Lords.

"I categorically and wholly deny these allegations", he said.

"When Lord Hain made allegations about me in the House of Lords yesterday, he failed to disclose that he has a financial relationship with the law firm, Gordon Dadds, who represent the Telegraph.

"I have been advised that his actions are likely to have been a breach of the House of Lords Code of Conduct. As many people have said Lord Hain’s blatant disregard of a judgment made by three senior judges is outrageous."

"I will be lodging formal complaints with the relevant authorities in the House of Lords.”

Following condemnation by senior lawyers over his decision to use parliamentary privilege to name the Topshop owner, Lord Hain defended his decision, saying the case concerned him due to the "wealth, and power that comes with it, and abuse".

The former cabinet minister named Sir Philip, despite Court of Appeal judges temporarily barring The Daily Telegraph from publishing "confidential information" from five employees about a figure the newspaper described only as a "leading businessman".

Sir Philip "categorically and wholly" denied being guilty of any "unlawful sexual or racist behaviour", in a statement issued hours after the peer's dramatic intervention in the House of Lords.

The paper wants to reveal what it calls "alleged sexual harassment and racial abuse of staff", who have been prevented from discussing their claims by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

The Daily Telegraph had been banned from naming Sir Philip Green and details of the allegations by the courts. Credit: ITV News

However, it has emerged that law firm Gordon Dadds - where Lord Hain acts as a global and government adviser - is the company which is representing The Daily Telegraph in the case, leading to speculation that the firm had tipped off the Labour peer.

Both Lord Hain and the law firm denied this was the case.

“Any suggestion that Gordon Dadds LLP has in any way acted improperly is entirely false," a spokesperson for the law firm said.

"Peter Hain did not obtain any information from Gordon Dadds regarding this case.

"He has no involvement in the advice that we provide to The Telegraph newspaper, and he had no knowledge of any sensitive information regarding this case.”

Lord Hain echoed the law firm saying he had named Sir Philip "in my personal capacity as an independent member of the House Of Lords.

“I categorically state that I was completely unaware Gordon Dadds were advising the Telegraph regarding this case.

“Gordon Dadds... played absolutely no part whatsoever in either the sourcing of my information or my independent decision to name Sir Philip.”

“They were completely unaware of my intentions until after I spoke in the House of Lords.”

The 68-year-old had earlier said he was contacted by someone "intimately involved" in the case and felt it was his duty to use parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip.

Legal experts have also questioned Lord Hain's decision to name Sir Philip, since the case is going through the courts and only a temporary ban on naming him was in place until the case was heard in the upcoming months.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve QC said Lord Hain's behaviour had been "clearly arrogant" and he had abused parliamentary privilege in deciding he knew better than the courts.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Grieve said Lord Hain "certainly did not" do the right thing in naming Sir Philip.

He said he could "not think of the smallest justification" in naming Sir Philip when the courts had not yet made a final decision on the case, and that Lord Hain's actions had "ruthlessly undermined the rule of law" which was "frankly an outrageous thing to do".

"The fact that somebody may be unpopular with the wider public, or seen to be a figure we should revile because they're unpleasant doesn't come into it, because everybody in this country is entitled to the protection of the law and the protection of the courts, and the courts are the right place for this to be determined, not for members of Parliament to start sounding off and abuse Parliamentary privilege in order to circumvent a court case."

Ex-lord chief justice Lord Judge told the programme he thought Lord Hain was wrong, adding: "I don't think that parliamentary privilege is designed to take away any citizen's rights, even if we don't very much like them."

However, Lord Hain insisted he had received "overwhelming support - particularly from women".

Speaking on BBC's Newsnight he added: "What concerned me about this case was wealth, and power that comes with it, and abuse, and that was what led me to act in the way that I did.

"It's for others to judge whether I've been right or wrong.

"But there's no point in being in Westminster - which is the sovereign centre of the British constitution, has sovereignty and with it the parliamentary privilege that is a privilege ... if you never discharge that; if you never deploy the precious rights of parliamentary privilege."

He stressed that the cloak of privilege should be used "extremely carefully with integrity and very responsibly - never just loosely".

Following his naming, Sir Philip said he "categorically and wholly" denied the accusations made against him, adding: "I am not commenting on anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today."

The principle of parliamentary privilege means MPs and peers cannot be sued for libel for comments made in the Houses of Parliament, and offers protection to media outlets reporting those comments.

Following the naming of Sir Philip, The Daily Telegraph has written to the 66-year-old's lawyers threatening to quickly return to court for the trial unless they drop the injunction.

Ending the legal battle would allow its reporters to air the allegations from those who entered controversial non-disclosure agreements.

On Wednesday, Theresa May pledged to hasten measures to improve regulation around so-called gagging clauses in response to questions about the case.

The Prime Minister said some employers are using NDAs "unethically" as she criticised "abhorrent" sexual harassment in the workplace.

Frank Field led condemnation of Sir Philip over the BHS pension scandal. Credit: PA

Some politicians have reignited the debate over Sir Philip's knighthood following the disclosure, with calls for the Honours Forfeiture Committee to consider withdrawing his knighthood - previously challenged in the furore over shortfalls in the BHS pension scheme.

Frank Field, who led condemnation of Sir Philip over the BHS pension scandal, said: "The charge sheet against the knighthood is growing."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said he should be "stripped of his knighthood" should the allegations be proved correct.