The bombshell claims, which Sir Martin says are untrue, came after weeks of silence from him over his shock departure in April from WPP, the global advertising empire he founded in A passionate campaigner for Remain in the EU referendum, he is a regular commentator on business affairs, regularly appearing on the BBC and in national newspapers.
His downfall — and the unprecedented secrecy around it — has puzzled and angered blue-chip investors for weeks. A Pirc spokesman said last night: Shareholders should be informed of significant events such as this. When the Mail visited the dimly-lit flat yesterday, bondage equipment and racy underwear hung from the bedroom door and red neon lights dangled over the bed.
Sir Martin strenuously denies the prostitute allegations, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday. Yesterday the FT claimed the investigation against him was triggered by a combination of factors including alleged verbal abuse of his staff, his sacking of a popular chauffeur last autumn and being spotted entering the brothel by a member of his staff who later reported it.
Sir Martin strongly denies that he mistreated, abused or bullied his staff. Friends of the businessman pointed out he inevitably had significant expenses running a company with , staff operating in countries — and denies misusing funds. He apparently decided to quit WPP, despite denying the accusation against him, because of a breakdown in relations with the board.
He is now setting up a rival company. For two months, WPP has steadfastly refused to explain why Sir Martin stepped down, to the frustration of some large investors who have called for greater transparency. He has no complaint about there being an investigation if there needed to be one, but he felt it was badly conducted. He understands that the allegation was made by a disgruntled employee.
If you run a business with , employees for 30 years, some will fall out with you. He will be making no further comment at this time. Tuesday June 6, , was a grey afternoon and a light drizzle was falling on Mayfair. But storm clouds were gathering on the horizon for Sir Martin personally. A self-confessed workaholic, Sir Martin famously declared: The two colleagues were sitting outside a bar when they allegedly witnessed their boss going into Flat 50a.
Afterwards, one of them took a photograph of the location, the FT reported. It is unclear whether the two WPP employees mentioned anything about their alleged sighting to the company at the time. In the early months of , one of the employees broke their silence and confided to a senior colleague about what they had allegedly seen that evening in June , said the FT. The popular driver had worked for the millionaire chief executive for some 15 years until he was abruptly sacked last October.
The unnamed chauffeur used to ferry Sir Martin around London in a Range Rover and was also often on call for his wife Cristiana too. According to sources who spoke to the FT, it was already 2am and the driver was told he would have to be back in place for another job at 7am. The Sorrells fired him the next day, the FT claimed. The alleged shabby treatment of the chauffeur was apparently a key factor motivating a future whistleblower.
The ad boss built his multi-billion-pound empire virtually from scratch and is said to work day and night, quick-firing off emails and micro-managing his sprawling business, which has , employees across the globe. Executive assistants working closely with Sir Martin did not typically last longer than 18 months because the job was too tough, according to the newspaper. One ex-employee told the FT: The City veteran is described as a perpetual motion machine, working all hours — including during holiday — and constantly responding to emails.
His business took him all over the world as he mixed with the global elite. In covering the globe for his company, Sir Martin was bound to rack up significant expenses as part of his duties. Sir Martin had long dominated the company he founded, but witnessed the downfall of a succession of powerful men in the media and Hollywood.
The whistleblower provided the photo of 50a Shepherd Market. Sir Martin was interviewed for two hours by WilmerHale partners on March Believing it was a routine matter, he did not have a lawyer present, according to the FT. Friends of Sir Martin said he was not given the full picture. The board apparently concluded the matter was largely a personal issue for Sir Martin. Yet the fact that the investigation had been carried out was leaked to The Wall Street Journal and Sir Martin is said to have concluded that his position as CEO was untenable, resigning the following day.
Visitors are ushered into a generous room with a king-size bed adorned with neon red fairy lights. A leather jacket, bondage gear and racy underwear hang on a rack behind the bedroom door. This was the scene at 50a Shepherd Market, a nondescript flat above a bookies.
Now it is rented by the day, by a variety of young women who sell their bodies for sex — often to men who turn up unannounced. Seconds later, the young lady, clad in black lingerie and wearing black high heels, could be seen sitting cross-legged in a tiny waiting area.
She looked in her mid 20s, was about 5ft 5in tall and of slim build. She had straight black hair, longer than shoulder length, and wore dark mascara. She spoke with an eastern European accent. Inside the bedroom there is cream acrylic carpet, burgundy wallpaper and dimmed lighting.
Speaking softly, the woman nervously ran through the price list. The flat, above a ground-floor branch of bookmakers William Hill, has an en-suite bathroom and a rudimentary kitchen. The walls are bare, apart from an A4-size silhouette image of a woman. We just leave some money in the microwave to pay the rent. Some people come back lots of times, some people only visit once. They just come in, do their business, and then they leave. He died in aged 75, and the flat was left in his will.
He was unavailable for comment yesterday.