Sir Philip Green businesses face boycott over harassment claims

By Daniel Thomas
Business reporter, BBC News

media captionRetail analyst Claire Bailey says Topshop sales could be hurt

Sir Philip Green's Arcadia retail empire is facing a backlash after it emerged he had used an injunction to stop the media publishing allegations of sexism and harassment against him.

The hashtag #pinknotgreen is trending on Twitter, with people calling on consumers to boycott Topshop and other Arcadia brands.

Lord Peter Hain named Sir Philip in the Lords after the Daily Telegraph was prevented from identifying him.

Sir Philip strongly denies the claims.

In a statement on Thursday, Sir Philip said: "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."

#Pinknotgreen was created by Scarlett Curtis, who was stopped from promoting her book in a Topshop store in London earlier this month.

The fashion retailer had agreed to host a pop-up with Penguin to help launch the book, Feminists Don't Wear Pink (And Other Lies).

But it dismantled the in-store display after just 20 minutes, blaming "creative" concerns and sparking an angry reaction on social media.

Ms Curtis has now spoken out about this week's allegations against Sir Philip and her message has gone viral.

Her tweet attracted hundreds of messages of support from women and men, with some calling for a boycott of Arcadia stores.

Others said the allegations emphasised the need for change right across the business world.

Arcadia is mainly made up of female-focused fashion retailers, such as Evans, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins, although it does include the menswear chains Topman and Burton.

Claire Bailey, a retail analyst, told the BBC: "In any cases where allegations or charges are brought against business owners, it can cause customers to feel uncomfortable spending their money with them.

"It's a difficult situation because people will have heard the story and they may form a judgment and come to a conclusion, whether the outcome is in his favour or not."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionSir Philip is also a regular at London Fashion Week, seen here in 2015

The Telegraph first reported on the injunction on Wednesday, saying a "leading businessman" had won a legal battle to stop the newspaper printing details of harassment claims made against him.

Without naming Sir Philip, it said it had spent eight months investigating allegations of bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment.

It also reported that interviews with five members of staff revealed that victims had been paid "substantial sums" in return for legal commitments not to discuss their alleged experiences.

However, on Thursday Lord Hain used his parliamentary privilege to identify Sir Philip, saying it was his duty given the "serious and repeated" nature of the allegations.

He also said non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) had been used to "to conceal the truth".

image copyrightPenguin Random House
image captionTopshop sparked anger after it dismantled a pop-up to promote a feminist book earlier in October

The move has attracted criticism from some in the legal profession, but Lord Hain maintained it was the "right thing to do".

The BBC has not been able to verify the allegations contained in the Telegraph's report.

Sir Philip said: "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."

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