…As Philip Green accused of racial, physical and sexual abuse***
Nine Indians have been arrested in Sri Lanka’s Uva province for allegedly staying in the country without a visa, according to a media report.
The accused, who are mostly in the their late 20s, were arrested after the police received information of their illegal stay in the island nation, the Daily News reported. The suspects will be produced before the Nuwara Eliya Magistrate’s Court today, the report said quoting a police official.
In another incident, an Indian national was arrested from the national capital’s Bandaranaike International Airport with 1 kg of cocaine worth Rs15 million in the international market, the Colombo Gazette reported.
In the meantime, Philip Green allegedly subjected people working in his business empire to abuse and other inappropriate behaviour that was at times racial, physical and sexual, according to a report.
A host of serious allegations were published on Friday evening by the Daily Telegraph after an injunction obtained by the businessman was lifted.
The paper said some of the people involved had made complaints about Green but they had been covered up. In some cases, Green is alleged to have paid people large sums of money in return for their silence.
He was accused of making racist remarks to black employees, of groping female employees and of being physically aggressive and abusive towards both male and female members of staff.
The paper made the allegations public on Friday evening after Green dropped legal action against it in the high court earlier the same day.
The paper reported last October that an unidentified businessman had obtained an injunction against it. Peter Hain, operating under cover of parliamentary privilege, later revealed that figure to be Green. As a result, the businessman’s lawyers argued there was no longer any point in pursuing legal action and a judge agreed to allow him to withdraw it on Friday, ordering him to pay the Telegraph’s costs. The paper has estimated his bill to be in the region of £3m.
In one of the claims reported by the Telegraph on Friday, it was alleged that Green mocked a black employee’s dreadlocks and accused him of smoking cannabis, as well as telling him his “problem” was that “everyone else is firing guns and you’re still throwing spears in the jungle”. The employee later accepted a £1m payment on condition that he signed a gagging order, the Telegraph reported. The man refused to comment when contacted by the paper.
The report said other staff had raised concerns about Green, with some claiming the need to be “careful about hiring” had been discussed because Green felt there were “too many black people” in his Arcadia business.
Green denied any “unlawful … racist behaviour”, the paper said.
In another claim reported by the Telegraph, Green is alleged to have groped a senior female executive, called her a “naughty girl”, as well as kissing her face in full view of other staff and making comments about her weight. It was alleged that she was later paid more than £1m to keep quiet. The Telegraph said it had chosen not to name the woman, who had declined to comment when contacted by the paper.
Other women told the paper they had also been the objects of inappropriate behaviour. Green’s lawyers admitted he acted in a “tactile” way and has “prodded and poked individuals”. He has said he “categorically denies any unlawful … sexual behaviour”.
According to the Telegraph’s coverage, an Arcadia employee also accused Green of “grabbing” her face and making comments that made her feel “uncomfortable”. At one point, she told him “not to come any closer”, it said.
The paper reported that the woman had complained to HR that she felt sexually harassed and intimidated and was later paid hundreds of thousands of pounds.
According to court documents, Green’s lawyers said his “style is predominately jovial in nature” and that he “has in a playful way poked and prodded individuals with whom he has worked closely”. His lawyers added that he “has also been known to put his arms around individuals at times in a totally non-sexual way”.
In addition, the Telegraph reported that an Arcadia executive had complained about Green’s behaviour, including an incident in which he had allegedly held her in a “headlock” in front of numerous witnesses.
Sources told the paper he had also allegedly “groped” her, leaving her feeling “intimidated”. The Telegraph said she had been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds after making a formal complaint.
Green’s lawyers told the paper he was a “passionate businessman, who can at times be overexuberant and hot-headed”. They said he can be “perceived at times as aggressive with senior and trusted staff”.
They added: “It is further denied that any of Sir Philip’s conduct towards employees amounted to any type of crime, or anything that would amount to gross misconduct, or a serious risk to health and safety.”
Green was also accused of acting aggressively towards another member of staff, including smashing the person’s phone. The Telegraph reported that, when it put the allegations to Green, he said the executive had been paid “one month’s salary” when he left and had recently asked for a reference.
Asked to respond to the Telegraph’s report on Friday evening, Green’s representatives told the Guardian they would not expand on a statement released earlier that day in response to the high court’s decision in which they said the paper had a “vendetta” against Green. “The Telegraph has pursued a vendetta against Sir Philip Green and the employees and management of Arcadia Group for the past nine months, harassing many of its staff and their families at their homes, often at night and at weekends.”
Zee News with additional report from Guardian UK