The identity of a British billionaire who had managed to quell accusations of sexual harassment against him was revealed on Thursday by a member of the House of Lords using his parliamentary privilege to get around a court injunction.
Peter Hain revealed that Philip Green, a billionaire at the head of a large retail and fashion empire, including Top Shop, was accused of sexual harassment, and explained that he had been approached by a person “closely involved” in the case.
The Lord said it was his “duty” and “in the public interest” to reveal his identity, after Green “spent substantial sums of money to hide the truth about repeated acts of sexual harassment, racism and harassment”.
The Daily Telegraph was prevented by the courts from naming Green in a story it was going to publish about the allegations, leading many to criticise the courts actions as granting a free pass to the rich to avoid scandals, in the wake of the #metoo movement.
“The British #metoo scandal which cannot be revealed,” was the headline of a Telegraph article last week in which the journalists lamented that after eight months of investigation, they were prevented by a court decision from disclosing the charges against the businessman emanating from several of his employees.
The court of appeal had temporarily stopped the publication of the article pending a trial. It judged that the published information came from confidentiality agreements signed by five employees with the businessman, giving rise to “substantial” cash payments and prevailing over the freedom to inform.
“It seems that our laws allow rich and powerful men to do practically anything they want as long as they pay to keep it quiet,” Labor MP Jess Phillips told the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Theresa May pledged on Wednesday to revise the rules surrounding confidentiality agreements to prevent “immoral” use by some employers.