Gates denies new report he was ordered to stop ‘flirtatious’ emails to Microsoft worker when married

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Watch: Microsoft execs warned Bill Gates over emails asking employee out on date

Bill Gates was told to stop emailing a mid-level female Microsoft employee in 2008 after top executives told him his behaviour was inappropriate, according to reports. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the then-married Mr Gates was ‘flirtatious’ and propositioned the employee in the newly discovered emails.  

A spokesman for Microsoft, Frank Shaw, told the WSJ the emails were discovered by the company just before Mr Gates retired in 2008, and had been sent the previous year.

“While flirtatious, they were not overtly sexual, but were deemed to be inappropriate,” Mr Shaw added, saying Mr Gates had proposed meeting up with the female worker away from the office. 

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Mr Gates, told the WSJ in a written statement that the claims were “false, recycled rumours from sources who have no direct knowledge, and in some cases have significant conflicts of interest.”

Mr Gates, 65, finalised his divorce from his wife of 27 years Melinda French Gates in August after he admitted having an affair with a former Microsoft employee.

The couple continue to manage the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the world’s largest philanthropic organisations. 

Bill and Melinda French Gates pictured in 2019 before their divorce (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Bill and Melinda French Gates pictured in 2019 before their divorce (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Mr Gates co-founded Microsoft and was CEO until 2000, remained employed their until 2008, and was company chairman until 2014.

He stayed on as a board member until 2020. The Wall Street Journal first reported in May this year that Microsoft investigated a relationship Mr Gates had with a different female employee 20 years earlier.

Members of the board at Microsoft pursued an investigation into the billionaire founder’s affair after they were informed of a letter sent by a female employee in 2019, alleging that she and Mr Gates had a sexual relationship over the years.

A spokeswoman for Mr Gates acknowledged he had an affair, but said it ended “amicably” and was not related to his decision to step down from the company’s board.

He has previously spoken about his “regret” over his meetings with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

According to the 2021 Forbes 400 Richlist, Mr Gates is the fourth wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of around $134 billion, his lowest ranking in three decades. 

The Independent has approached Microsoft for comment. 

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