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  1. ITV Report

'You feel helpless': Former Ted Baker employees describe 'inappropriate behaviour' by founder Ray Kelvin

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

Two former employees at the fashion chain Ted Baker have described inappropriate behaviour by its founder Ray Kelvin.

They alleged he touched, hugged and bullied staff and have told ITV News about the culture at the heart of the business.

The retailer has launched an independent external investigation into the claims.

Ted Baker's share price plunged 15 per cent on Monday in the wake of the allegations.

The claims first emerged in an online petition, which said Mr Kelvin instigated a "forced hugging" policy that is part of a culture that "leaves harassment unchallenged". It demanded the company set up a way of reporting allegations of harassment to an independent body.

Mr Kelvin founded Ted Baker in 1988 and is worth £552 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Two former employees, who wished to remain anonymous, told ITV News about their experiences.

One said: "When Ray Kelvin would hug someone he would hold on to them for a long time and would whisper things in their ear and kiss their neck.

"People would be visibly uncomfortable most of the time."

Shares in Ted Baker plunged 15 per cent on Monday. Credit: ITV News

Another said: "I remember my first day, and my manger was like 'we need to talk about Ray a little bit. He's got some kind of eccentricities and keep your distance'. He used to kind of bully certain people and other times he used to be really flirty.

"I felt his hands kind of grip my shoulders and he gave me a prolonged, uncomfortable, awkward massage. It's kind of awful and I didn't want it. You feel helpless. You can't go to HR, you can't got to anyone, you can't go to the source because you know your fashion career is over because it's a small industry."

Ted Baker said in a statement that hugs are part of the company's culture but not insisted upon.

It said: "Ray, and the company's leadership, have always prided themselves on Ted Baker being a great employer and business to work with.

"Accordingly, they and the board take these concerns very seriously and the board has directed a thorough and urgent independent external investigation is carried out into these matters."