Ted Baker damned by Methodist investors over hugging and ear kissing claims

Ted Baker was chastised by the Methodist Church over the controversy surrounding boss Ray Kelvin, who was forced to take a leave of absence amid allegations of harassment.

The Press Association understands that Epworth, an ethically conscious asset manager owned by the Methodist Church, wrote a letter to the retailer’s board demanding an investigation.

Epworth, which boasts £1.4 billion of assets under management including a stake in Ted Baker, wrote to express its concern over the claims that Mr Kelvin enforced a “hugging” culture at the company.

Accusations were also made that he massaged employees, kissed their ears and asked some to sit on his lap.

Executives at Epworth, which takes a Christian approach to investment, are thought to have been perturbed by the allegations and the letter urged swift action, including changes to the corporate culture if Ted Baker’s internal investigation unearths wrongdoing.

It is understood the letter was one of the factors that forced the company to appoint lawyers at Herbert Smith Freehills to investigate the harassment allegations.

Herbert Smith will report to a committee of the company’s non-executive directors chaired by Sharon Baylay.

Mr Kelvin is taking a temporary leave of absence after Ted Baker was made aware of “further serious allegations” last month.

Founded in 1996, Epworth is an investment manager dedicated to serving the needs of churches and charities and carefully selects investments using Christian ethical criteria.

Ted Baker and Epworth declined to comment on the letter.