First day in court for Sir Philip Green’s ac­cuser

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Bill Gard­ner in Tuc­son, Ari­zona

SIR PHILIP GREEN faced his first court hear­ing yesterday into al­leged crim­i­nal mis­con­duct af­ter a fit­ness in­struc­tor ac­cused him of grop­ing her at a lux­ury spa re­sort.

US pros­e­cu­tors charged the Top­shop bil­lion­aire with four counts of as­sault in May af­ter Katie Sur­ridge told The Daily Tele­graph that he fon­dled her bot­tom re­peat­edly and made sex­ual com­ments de­spite be­ing warned to stop.

Ms Sur­ridge, 38, ap­peared along­side her hus­band and le­gal team at the first hear­ing in the case yesterday at Pima County Jus­tice Court in Tuc­son, Ari­zona. Sir Philip was ab­sent from pro­ceed­ings af­ter his lawyers suc­cess­fully ap­pealed to waive the usual re­quire­ment to ap­pear in per­son.

The de­ci­sion by US au­thor­i­ties to pros­e­cute Sir Philip has in­creased pres­sure on Scot­land Yard to launch a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion into claims made by his al­leged vic­tims in Bri­tain. If proved, the charges are likely to add to pres­sure on par­lia­men­tary au­thor­i­ties to strip Sir Philip of his knight­hood

Dur­ing the brief hear­ing, pros­e­cu­tors re­vealed that the ty­coon may be of­fered a plea deal in re­turn for an ad­mis­sion of guilt. Each count car­ries a po­ten­tial sen­tence of 30 days in jail and a year of pro­ba­tion.

Michael Pi­caretta, Sir Philip’s at­tor­ney, also asked for clar­ity around the def­i­ni­tion of “in­tent”, sig­nalling that the de­fence team may ar­gue that he never meant to “in­sult or pro­voke” Ms Sur­ridge.

Speak­ing af­ter po­lice launched their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Ms Sur­ridge ac­cused Sir Philip of “hid­ing be­hind ex­pen­sive lawyers”, and said “You can have all the money in the world but you can’t be­have the way he did and ex­pect to just walk away.”

Sir Philip has hired a string of high­pro­file at­tor­neys to de­fend the case in­clud­ing La-based lawyer Alan Jack­son, who suc­ceeded in get­ting sex­ual as­sault charges dropped against the ac­tor Kevin Spacey in July.

The case has al­ready been held up twice af­ter Sir Philip’s le­gal team re­quested a de­lay. His at­tor­neys have also asked for more time to in­ter­view each

of the wit­nesses ahead of a pos­si­ble trial. An­other court date has been set for Oct 23.

Since the charges were an­nounced, more spa employees have come for­ward to ac­cuse the Top­shop ty­coon of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour. In July, Jen­nifer Mcamis, a 30-year-old fit­ness in­struc­tor, claimed she had to wear ex­tra lay­ers of cloth­ing be­cause Sir Philip was so “grabby”.

At least one more worker has also made of­fi­cial com­plaints about his be­hav­iour, it is un­der­stood. In re­cent weeks a num­ber of mil­lion­aire res­i­dents have de­manded that Sir Philip, who still owns a lux­ury nine-bed­room home on the prop­erty, is per­ma­nently banned from en­ter­ing the spa and gym.

It comes af­ter Ms Sur­ridge told The Tele­graph that Sir Philip first groped her in 2016, while she was work­ing as a Pi­lates in­struc­tor at Canyon Ranch, a lux­ury spa in the out­skirts of Tuc­son.

“I felt like just a piece of meat there at his dis­posal,” she said. “It feels com­pletely sex­ual in na­ture. And the way – the noises, and the ‘Oh, you naughty girl’. Like – ugh – I can hear him say­ing it right now.”

A wit­ness told The Tele­graph that she re­mem­bered Sir Philip “fondling” Ms Sur­ridge’s bot­tom re­peat­edly as if “test­ing a piece of fruit”.

Ms Sur­ridge was wor­ried about con­fronting a “high roller” at the re­sort but was re­as­sured by man­agers that the bil­lion­aire had been warned not to do it again. But two years later Sir Philip groped her dur­ing an­other class, she said. She then re­ported him to po­lice.

It comes af­ter three women in Bri­tain who made com­plaints against Sir Philip signed non-dis­clo­sure agree­ments (NDAS) and were paid huge sums to keep silent.

The al­le­ga­tions could only be re­ported af­ter Sir Philip dropped an in­junc­tion against this news­pa­per.

The ap­par­ent dis­par­ity for al­leged vic­tims in the UK and the US has led for calls for the Govern­ment to crack down on the mis­use of NDAS.

Katie Sur­ridge, a Pi­lates in­struc­tor, ar­rives at court in Tuc­son for the first hear­ing in the case against Sir Philip Green, the Top­shop bil­lion­aire, who has been charged with four counts of as­sault at a lux­ury spa re­sort. Sir Philip did not ap­pear at the hear­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.