“I can see that in the light of what has happened in this case, and what has been said by the claimants, some kinds of claim might arguably be an abuse of process,” he said.
The billionaire has always denied that his actions were unlawful and described his behaviour as “banter”.
The legal battle with Sir Philip began last summer when The Telegraph contacted him for comment about allegations that he had sexually harassed and racially abused employees.
Instead of responding to the questions, the billionaire’s lawyers obtained an interim injunction, which prevented details of the claims and the businessman’s identity from being reported.
In August, the High Court ruled in favour of The Telegraph and its right to publish. Justice Haddon-Cave, one of the country’s leading judges, had ruled that “the public interest in publication outweighs any confidentiality attaching to the information”.
But three Court of Appeal judges disagreed and overturned the earlier ruling, and granted an interim injunction. They were led by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, sitting with Lord Justice Henderson and Lord Justice Underhill. All three have backgrounds in contract law and one also in employment law.
The judges ordered an expedited trial, which was due to begin at the beginning of February.