Topshop owner Sir Philip Green has said he “categorically and wholly denies” allegations of “unlawful sexual or racist behaviour”.
In a statement released after he was named in parliament as the businessman behind an injunction against the Daily Telegraph, he said: “I am not commenting on anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today.
“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.
“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.”
Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday, Labour peer Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip.
The former cabinet minister told peers: “I feel it’s my duty under parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the individual in question given that the media have been subject to an injunction preventing publication of the full details of this story which is clearly in the public interest.”
Lord Hain said the case involved “a powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying which is compulsively continuing”.
Billionaire Sir Philip, 66, is the chairman of Arcadia Group, which includes high street brands Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Evans, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Outfit.
The BHS department store used to be part of the chain until its collapse two years ago.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday an unnamed senior executive in a company group had hired at least seven lawyers and spent close to £500,000 in legal fees in his quest to get an injunction against the newspaper.
Under the court ruling, it is illegal to reveal the businessman’s identity or to identify the companies, as well as what he is accused of doing or how much he paid his alleged victims.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs it is “clear” some employers are using non-disclosure agreements “unethically”, but refused to comment on “a particular case that is currently before the courts”.
Mrs May told MPs on Wednesday the government will look at ways to improve rules around non-disclosure agreements and make it “explicit” to companies when they cannot be used.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, she said: “Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law.
“Such abhorrent behaviour should not be tolerated and an employer that allows that harassment of women to go undealt with is sending a message about how welcome they are and about their value in the workplace.
“So, just as we won’t accept any behaviour that causes people to feel intimidated or humiliated in the workplace, there must be consequences for failing to comply with the law.
“Non-disclosure agreements cannot stop people from whistleblowing but it is clear some employers are using them unethically.
“The government is going to bring forward measures for consideration for consultation to seek to improve the regulation around non-disclosure agreements and make it absolutely explicit to employees when a non-disclosure agreement does not apply or cannot be enforced.”