MPs have called for Sir Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood if allegations of sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying are true.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the billionaire businessman had “narrowly and luckily escaped losing his knighthood over the pensions scandal” at BHS, which plunged into administration back in 2016.
He added: “If these allegations are correct, he should certainly be stripped of his knighthood.”
Labour MPs including Frank Field and Jess Phillips have echoed Sir Vince’s remarks.
Sir Philip, who owns the Arcadia Group of high street brands including Topshop, Topman, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, was named in parliament as the businessman behind an injunction against The Daily Telegraph on Thursday.
The 66-year-old said he “categorically and wholly denies” allegations of “unlawful sexual or racist behaviour”.
Retail analysts have said that, although the claims are unproven, they could be “highly damaging for both him and the retail businesses he owns” if they spark calls to boycott his stores.
Although the pensions scandal at BHS was “complex and nuanced and readily overlooked by many consumers”, Neil Saunders of GlobalData Retail said the allegations could “weigh on people’s minds when they decide where to shop”.
In a statement, Sir Philip said he would not comment on anything that happened in court or was said in parliament on Thursday, adding: “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”.
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 said the government will look at ways to improve rules around non-disclosure agreements and make it “explicit” to companies when they cannot be used.