Sir Martin Sorrell’s shock departure from WPP last April was due to allegations of staff bullying and claims he’d used company money to visit sex workers in London’s upmarket Mayfair, it has been reported.
The allegations of prostitution first aired in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday and have been “strenuously” denied by Sorrell.
Yesterday, the UK’s Financial Times published allegations that Sorrell had also bullied junior employees.
Prior to Sorrell’s shock exit, WPP launched an investigation into his alleged misuse of company money, however, the report found he had no case to answer.
In other explosive claims made in the Financial Times report, two WPP employees claimed to have witnessed Sorrell entering a Mayfair address frequented by sex workers in 2017.
The report also claimed he’d bullied junior WPP staff and created a “toxic environment” and a “fear culture” at the company’s London headquarters.
It also claimed that Sorrell’s expenses had been investigated previously. He’d also repeatedly requested advances on expenses from petty cash, despite having access to company accounts and company credit cards.
Sorrell had also sacked his chauffeur after he dropped Sorrell’s wife, Christina, home at 2am and then refused to return to work at 7am the following morning.
Over the weekend, a spokesman for Sorrell said: “Sir Martin signed a non-disclosure agreement when he stepped down which precludes him from discussing any of the circumstances surrounding his departure. He has rigidly adhered to this obligation and will continue to do so.
“As regards the allegations [that company funds were possibly paid to a sex worker], Sir Martin strenuously denies them. He will be making no further comment at this time.”
On Sunday, a WPP spokesperson said: “WPP has been advised that it cannot disclose details of the allegations against Sir Martin Sorrell because it is prohibited by data protection law from giving such details. Sir Martin chose to resign at the conclusion of the investigation by independent legal counsel.”
Meanwhile, UK industry site Campaign is reporting comments from a close friend of Sorrell’s who said: “He denies the allegation that he saw a prostitute. He understands that the allegation was made by a disgruntled employee. If you run a business with 200,000 employees for 30 years, some will fall out with you.”
Last week, the 73-year-old Sorrell revealed plans for his next move that included a new company called S4 that would play in the tech, media marketing space and possibly compete against WPP agencies. There’d also been reports that S4 could possibly may make a play for parts of the WPP business.