Disturbing new allegations about Mohamed Al Fayed and how he abused his power against women who worked for him. Three more women claim they were all sexually assaulted by the Egyptian magnate. One woman tells the programme she was targeted when she was just 15-years-old.
Multiple woman have made new allegations of sexual misconduct against the former Harrods owner – with one woman telling the programme she was targeted when she was just 15-years-old. He denies this.
But tonight this programme can reveal disturbing allegations about the way he abused his power to prey on women who worked for him. Multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, with one woman telling us she was targeted when she was just 15.
They came forward after a Channel 4 Dispatches alleged the billionaire businessman sexually harassed and groomed female employees. They plucked up the courage to come forward after Channel 4 Dispatches alleged the billionaire businessman harassed and groomed female employees.
Channel 4 News has spoken to three more women – on condition of anonymity – who claim they were all sexually assaulted by the Egyptian magnate.
WOMAN A (claims she was assaulted in 2008, and reported it the police in same year):
In 2007 a schoolgirl visited Harrods with her mum. She says she was spotted by Al-Fayed and he offered her a job, even though she was only 15-years-old. She claims she was given an hourly salary for a weekend job. But soon Al-Fayed started offering her wads of cash as well.
Woman A: “It was so surreal. lt was something where I just felt the lucky one. Just felt honoured… My meetings would be often, once a week in his offices, upstairs in Harrods, top floor.”
Cathy: “How much money did he give you?”
Woman A: “£50 notes, I can’t remember the exact amount but sometimes I guess it was about £300.”
She was uneasy about it, but she says she was in thrall to him. Even when he showered her with gifts – perfume, a designer handbag – she didn’t question his motives.
Woman A: “I just saw the good in him because I felt he just wanted the best for me. And he was seen as a god in Harrods, he really was.”
After a few months she said something happened which changed the course of her life.
Woman A: “He came into the office one day, into the board room. Basically, he just grabbed me to say hello, to hug me. And he just carried on hugging me, and hugging me, and then he started rubbing himself on my chest. And I was just shocked by situation. And I said ‘what are you doing?’ And he was telling me I was turning into beautiful woman. And then he grabbed my head and he tried to put his tongue in my mouth.
“So I pushed him off me and he went berserk. Absolutely berserk, screaming at me to get the f*** out, screaming at me never to say anything, never say anything to my parents or to never come back again. And I felt stupid because I knew then I’d been a fool this whole time – and I should have I should have listened to my instincts when I had funny feelings but he was just so looked up at and I genuinely thought he had the best interests for me, and he completely just went for me. And the fact that I pushed him off and how he reacted was just … awful.”
She stopped eating, ran away from home, but eventually confided in her parents. They took her to the police. After a thorough investigation, though, the Crown Prosecution Service decided the evidence was conflicting and not sufficiently reliable and so there was no realistic prospect of conviction – and dropped the case. Al-Fayed has always maintained his innocence.
Channel 4 News has found further evidence of similar allegations dating back more than two decades.
Cathy Newman spoke to another woman (Woman B) now in her 40s who started working at Harrods a quarter of a century ago.
She said he immediately made her feel uncomfortable, but her unease crystallised during a business trip to his Ritz hotel in Paris. She says he’d put pressure on her to go – and his eccentric behaviour the night they arrived only contributed to her anxieties.
Woman B: “We all went to have dinner in the restaurant and I remember Fayed doing weird things like putting lemon all over his plate and his fork to get rid of all the bacteria, he was paranoid about germs. And he made a few comments about sex and boyfriends and things.”
After dinner, she says Al-Fayed became overtly sexual.
Woman B: “He wanted to dance with each of us. I danced with him. I felt really uncomfortable. He kept pressing himself against me. He was kissing my face. He asked if I liked his kisses. He kept squeezing me and kissing my forehead, and even at one point he kissed my nose. And I remember feeling very uncomfortable and a bit frozen.”
Woman B kept a diary of every incident – recounting in detail the pressure Al-Fayed put on her, a gift of perfume here, a wad of £50 notes there. But she says one incident in particular has proved hard to forget.
Woman B: “I don’t want you having boyfriends. I’m your number one. He pulled me towards him and kissed my face. He put a hand on each cheek and he kissed me on the mouth… I pulled away. I was scared, I was scared. I was in his office and I was scared.”
She noted her reaction in her diary at the time.
Woman B (reading from diary): “I pulled away. He laughed. He could see my discomfort. He said don’t you want to have sex with me? And I said no. He said not now maybe one day. And I said no, never.”
Several other women who worked at Harrods have told Channel 4 News they too rebuffed Al-Fayed’s advances. One woman hired by him around a decade ago remembers she was made to undergo a full medical check, including a test for sexually transmitted diseases.
Woman C: “I underwent a full, full medical and STD test, HIV test, everything you can think of.”
She says Al-Fayed began asking her to sleep with him and groped her breasts.
Woman C: “He would kind of tug and make a joke like ‘what you wearing underneath this?’ and he would try and look and his hands would go down your top and… that was it and he would start fondling, and I would move away.
She went to see a lawyer and was advised to keep a diary. The women we’ve spoken to wanted to remain anonymous.
Just like the other women Channel 4 News has spoken to, she too was given wads of cash, sometimes £500 a time.
Woman C: “He quite often would just hand you, or put down your top, rolls of £50 notes, varying in amounts.”
He was very persistent, she says, and one evening he became forceful.
Woman C: “We used to have to take his figures up, each night, from the office, up to his apartment, the lift, you would go straight to the apartment and you would take the figures to his bedroom which already sounds very strange. And at the time, he’d had some kind of injury to his ankle I think and he couldn’t get his shoes on properly so he asked me to put his shoes on and tie his laces, he was going somewhere, and he went to motion to undo his trousers and held the back of my head slightly and that was the first time I was very shaken, that it was quite physical and I was quite shaken.”
She claims Al-Fayed was explicit about what he wanted – and the cost of refusal.
Woman C: “If you sleep with me, if we have a good time together, if you sleep with me, you can have everything, you can have a flat on Kings Road, you can have a car… I said ‘I don’t drive, Mr Fayed, I don’t need a car’… ‘I’ll give you a better job’ and I would say no. And he’d say wake up, you’re stupid, you need to wake up. I think he gave me a time limit of a few weeks and if I hadn’t changed my mind then I would be sacked.”
Al-Fayed eventually got impatient with being rebuffed – and sacked her. Woman C sued him for sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination and was made an offer of £60,000. She accepted the offer and has not spoken about it publicly until now.
Tonight, Al-Fayed’s lawyer told this programme the claims concerning the 15-year-old were “false” and that Al-Fayed was unable to comment further on our other allegations.