The owner of Topshop, Philip Green, insisting he was only indulging in banter as he denies sexual harassment and racist abuse of staff.
The retail tycoon, identified as the businessman who obtained an injunction preventing the reporting of allegations of harassment, said he had not intended to cause offence and complained that he was being used as “target practice”.
Green has described the past few days as a horror story, and said the furore was injuring his business.
Green’s comments were his first response beyond an initial statement denying “unlawful sexual or racist behaviour” since the story broke on Thursday, when Peter Hain revealed that Green was the unnamed businessman behind a high court injunction preventing the Daily Telegraph from publishing “confidential information” from five employees.
Green, who is staying in a health resort in Tucson, Arizona, said: “I’m very, very upset. I’m being used as target practice. It’s injuring my business, all the people potentially working in the business, and it’s injuring me and my family,” he said.
“It’s a horror story. Somebody can say whatever they like and people just follow you around, chasing you and harassing you. I’ve been in business for more than 40 years. There has obviously from time to time been some banter and a bit of humour, but as far as I’m concerned there was never any intent to be offensive.”
Green said he believed he had a good relationship with staff and that he had never previously faced complaints. “If anything, I’ve said has caused offence, I’m happy to apologise,” he said. “Nothing I’ve said was ever meant to be offensive.”
Green has said he intends to lodge a formal complaint with the House of Lords authorities about Lord Hain for failing to declare he was a paid adviser to the law firm representing the Telegraph when he made his intervention.
“I stand resolutely by what I’ve said and neither retract nor apologise for standing up for human rights,” he told the Press Association.
Many MPs have backed Hain who has been criticised by some lawyers and legal experts for what they say was an abuse of parliamentary privilege, but many MPs have backed him.