LONDON — Sir Philip Green and The Daily Telegraph are both taking the moral high ground in the latest chapter of a dispute regarding the newspaper’s investigation into Green’s treatment of employees, and his use of non-disclosure agreements.
As reported, Topshop billionaire Green has dropped his case against the British newspaper, having sought to bar The Telegraph from revealing details of its investigation into his treatment of employees. The employees in question had all received payoffs from Green as part of non-disclosure agreements, and cannot reveal the details of their cases.
The Telegraph is now at liberty to publish the details of its ongoing probe into Green and his behavior, although the tycoon made it clear that employees who had signed the NDAs — and took their payouts — will have to keep quiet.
Over the weekend, The Telegraph crowed about its victory over Green and argued that revealing details of the retailer’s on-the-job behavior was in the public interest. The paper published accounts of alleged racist comments, bullying and sexual harassment by Green.
Details of The Telegraph’s investigation were first revealed at the end of October after a member of Britain’s House of Lords named Green as the mystery individual who’d sought to gag the newspaper over sexual harassment claims.
In a statement Friday, a spokesman for Green said that signatories of the NDAs “have ongoing obligations to honor those agreements, which they entered into willingly after receiving full independent legal advice about their rights and responsibilities. The Telegraph knowingly and shamefully coaxed these individuals to breach their obligations under these lawful agreements.
“The Court of Appeal, when granting the injunction to protect the confidential information in October, confirmed the agreements were lawful and made clear that NDAs play an important and legitimate role in settling commercial disputes, particularly in an employment context, and should be respected.”
Friday’s statement from Green’s office said The Telegraph has “pursued a vendetta against him and the employees and management of Arcadia Group for the past nine months, harassing many of its staff and their families in their homes, often at night and at weekends. The Telegraph and its owners must now decide whether to do the decent thing and respect the NDAs.”
Green has consistently defended himself against all of the accusations.
Telegraph editor Chris Evans said in a letter to readers over the weekend that while the paper was “delighted that the injunction had been lifted,” it would continue to campaign against “the misuse of NDAs” and wants the U.K. government to act to revise the laws that govern them.
Evans wrote that NDAs are too often used to cover up untoward behaviour in the workplace, and argued there was a “clear public interest in telling people whether a prospective employer has been accused of abuse. There may be people out there who have been victims of criminal offences at work, but who don’t believe they can complain to the police because they’ve signed NDAs.”