Former David Jones CEO Mark McInnes, David Jones and its board have filed their defence against sexual harassment claims made by David Jones publicist Kristy Fraser-Kirk.
According to media reports, part of McInnes' defence, which was filed on Friday afternoon (24 September), includes claims that Fraser-Kirk made comments of a sexual nature to him and, in response to those comments, he tried to kiss her.
McInnes also denies that invitations to Fraser-Kirk to have a drink with him after work functions implied he wanted to have sex with her.
Fraser-Kirk is suing David Jones, McInnes and nine directors, including Freehills partner Philippa Stone, and is seeking compensation and punitive damages amounting to $37 million.
Fraser-Kirk claims David Jones was aware of and tolerated ongoing sexual misconduct by McInnes.
As part of its defence, the retail giant denies that Fraser-Kirk was forced to go to a particular function, at which some of the alleged behaviour occurred.
The matter will be back in the Federal Court today (27 September) before Justice Geoffrey Flick, who is set to hear arguments about confidentiality and the suppression of names of witnesses - who have allegedly also been targets of McInnes' advances - which Fraser-Kirk intends to call.
In a hearing last week, Justice Flick told the Federal Court that allegations should not have been made against McInnes unless the person making any such allegations was willing to give evidence in court.
Fraser-Kirk's barrister Rachel Francois told the court: “There is a difficulty with one [witness] who will not consent to the release of her identity until confidentiality (is assured).”
Justice Flick, however, did not seem to think this a sufficient reason to allow the witness's identity to be suppressed.
Further, David Jones's barrister, Kate Eastman, said it was “impossible to prepare and file a defence” in the absence of full disclosure as to who exactly was making the allegations.