Sorrell in the headlines over 'sex, cash and bullying' claims

Sir Martin Sorrell's reputation is under increasing fire from the press, with both the Financial Times and the Daily Mail using their front pages to air allegations about his conduct today.

The papers carry Sorrell's previously stated denial of "the allegations which appeared in the Wall Street Journal", which was on Saturday the first publication to break the news that the investigation that led to his resignation from WPP dealt with whether he had paid a prostitute using company funds. 

He has said he will not issue any further comment "at this time" and he intends to adhere to the non-disclosure agreement he signed when he stepped down. WPP has said it is unable to publish details of the investigation due to data protection laws. 

The Financial Times – Sorrell’s downfall: why the ad king left WPP

Across pages two and three the paper lays out a detailed account of what Sorrell was like to work for as well as the allegations against him. The paper refers to Sorrell’s temper, particularly with executive assistants with "annual salaries typically above £80,000". It alleges that the head office was a "toxic environment" and that Sorrell could be "brutal and inhuman".

The report also claims that "despite his generous benefits and pay package that made him among Britain’s best-paid chief executives, it was common at Farm Street for Sir Martin to request cash for day-to-day expenses". 

It tells the story of how WPP came under increasing business pressure in recent years as major clients including HSBC were reviewing their business, and the impact of the duopoly of Facebook and Google on the advertising industry.

The report goes on to recount the claim that Sorrell was spotted by two staff going into a brothel in Mayfair last year. The staff member took a photograph and later reported this to the company, triggering a secret investigation into Sorrell’s conduct, including whether there was misuse of company funds.

WPP faces protest over Sorrell payoff but Quarta is set to stay as chairman

Daily Mail – £500m ad tycoon and a visit to a Mayfair brothel

The Daily Mail also features a shot of Sorrell, with his wife Cristiana, on its front page. Inside there’s another image – Sorrell with Pippa Middleton at Wimbledon last year.

The paper devotes three pages to the ad man facing "a barrage of humiliation" amid the claim he put "a £300 visit to Mayfair brothel on expenses". It goes further with an account of its reporters' visit to the brothel in question.

The Times – US law firm Pomerantz preparing class action against WPP

In a follow-up to the FT’s investigation, The Times reports that an American law firm has begun an investigation into "whether WPP and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices".

In the leader, business editor Alistair Osborne writes that Sorrell has the power to clear his name. "One man can end all this speculation: Sir Martin himself," he writes. "He’s not trammelled by the Data Protection Act because the data’s about him. So he could waive his right to privacy and give WPP permission to publish the findings of its inquiry. What’s he got to fear, if he’s got nothing to hide?"

The Sun – £500m ad mogul in £60-a-time brothel

On page 17 The Sun reports on Sorrell’s alleged visit to the Mayfair brothel, with images of the ad man and his wife Cristiana, an image of a woman in her underwear and a shot of the entrance to the brothel.

This article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign

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