Sir Philip Green seeking damages over being named in Parliament
Topshop owner Sir Philip Green is seeking damages over being named in Parliament as the businessman behind an injunction against the Daily Telegraph.
Court of Appeal judges temporarily barred the newspaper from identifying the tycoon or revealing “confidential information” relating to allegations of misconduct made against him by five employees.
But former Cabinet minister Lord Hain named Sir Philip in the House of Lords two days after the court’s ruling in October.
The Labour peer said he had been contacted by someone “intimately involved” in the case and felt it was his “duty” to use parliamentary privilege to identify the retail mogul.
Despite Lord Hain’s revelation, Sir Philip and two of his companies are continuing legal action against the newspaper’s publisher Telegraph Media Group Ltd in a bid to stop further details being made public.
During a preliminary hearing at the High Court on Monday, lawyers representing Sir Philip, Arcadia and Topshop/Topman said Lord Hain’s intervention had frustrated the original injunction.
James Price QC said the case had attracted a “storm of publicity”, much of which was “ill-informed and extremely unfair”.
The barrister told the court: “The fact is that the injunction has, to a considerable degree, been set at naught.
“The ability of the claimants to enforce their rights has been very substantially reduced.”
Mr Price said the matter of whether the Telegraph was “in some way involved” in Lord Hain being given the information should be investigated further, with a view to a potential damages claim against the newspaper.
He added: “We accept that Lord Hain has, for better or worse, complete immunity.
“Nobody is seeking damages from Lord Hain.”
Mr Justice Warby, hearing the case, told the court the injunction was first sought after Sir Philip and an executive at his Arcadia firm were contacted by a Telegraph journalist in July last year.
The newspaper intended to publish allegations of misconduct made against Sir Philip by five employees – who all received substantial payments after settling their claims.
In all five cases, the employees had agreed to keep the details of their complaints confidential under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
The injunction was initially refused by a High Court judge, but was later granted by the Court of Appeal in October pending a full trial of the issues – which is due to take place next month.
The judge said he was “anxious” as much of the case as possible should be in public, but heard several applications in private to avoid revealing details which remain confidential at this stage.
After Lord Hain’s statement was made in the chamber and broadcast on parliamentlive.tv, the peer confirmed it referred to the Topshop boss.
Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to hasten measures to improve regulation around so-called gagging clauses in response to questions about the case.
In August last year, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave refused to gag the newspaper, but a challenge was mounted by Sir Philip – then identified in court papers as ABC – and the two companies.
Outlining their decision for granting the injunction, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Henderson said there was a “real prospect” that publication would cause “substantial and possibly irreversible harm” to the claimants.