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May 16, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:48am

IPSO rejects complaint from Sir Philip Green’s retail group over Telegraph ‘harassment’

By James Walker

Press regulator IPSO has thrown out a complaint by Arcadia Group, owned by Sir Philip Green, after it claimed the Telegraph harassed the company by contacting current and former staff at their homes.

The group, which includes Topshop and Topman, argued that Telegraph reporters broke the Editors’ Code on harassment by continuing to approach staff after Arcadia asked them to stop.

Its complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation was not made on behalf of any of the staff it claimed had been “harassed” since March 2018, however.

The IPSO ruling comes after Green took out an injunction against the Telegraph last year in an attempt to block it reporting allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse made against him by staff.

Green has denied any allegations of unlawful sexual or racist behaviour.

Arcadia Group and Green later dropped their legal fight with The Telegraph after Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to identify the retail mogul as the businessman behind the injunction in the House of Lords.

Arcadia and Top Shop/Top Man Ltd said in their complaint to IPSO that attempts to contact staff “constituted harassment and persistent pursuit of the corporate entities” and took issue with reporters “contacting current staff members at home late in the evening”.

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It went on to claim that a “journalist had attempted to contact one former staff member twice and on one occasion the door had been answered by her 13 year old child”, according to the IPSO ruling.

Arcadia said a “number of these individuals” were concerned about how reporters got a hold of their telephone numbers and addresses.

The Telegraph said approaching people was necessary for its reporting to be accurate and that “serious allegations of sexual harassment, racist abuse, and bullying in the workplace” had been made against the company.

It added: “Approaches were made to ensure that Arcadia employees who may be in a position to shed light upon alleged wrongdoing at the company were given a fair opportunity to do so” away from bosses.

The Telegraph said its journalists stopped contacting individuals who had asked them to stop.

In its ruling on the complaint, IPSO said there is a “legitimate public interest in publications making approaches to third parties” it believes can provide information for a story.

The regulator added that Clause 3 (harassment) did not apply to corporate entities or prevent reporters from reasonably approaching people for information. The complaint was not upheld.

The full IPSO ruling can be read here.

Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

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