CBI boss Tony Danker sacked amid misconduct probe

UK business lobby group dismisses director-general and hears ‘devastating’ allegations against other senior managers

CBI boss Tony Danker
Danker stepped aside in March as the allegations were being investigated
(Image credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

The director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has been dismissed with immediate effect following an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct at the business lobbying group.

Tony Danker had been under scrutiny after a female employee made a formal complaint in January about his behaviour. She is understood to have claimed Danker “made unwanted contact with her and considered this unwanted conduct to be sexual harassment”, reported The Guardian in March.

The CBI said at the time that it had investigated the complaint “thoroughly” and “dealt with it comprehensively”, and had decided not to escalate it to a “disciplinary process”.

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New reports of misconduct surfaced in early March, when Danker announced he would step aside while an independent investigation took place.

Three other CBI employees have now been suspended pending investigation, after more than a dozen women came forward to accuse senior managers of sexual misconduct at the company. The women described “an unchecked culture of misogyny at the organisation”, said The Guardian. One woman said that she was raped at a staff party on a boat on the River Thames.

“Many of the most serious allegations predate Mr Danker's time as director-general,” said the BBC.

In a statement on Tuesday, the CBI stressed that Danker had not been the subject of these most recent “devastating” allegations, but said his behaviour “fell short of that expected of the director general”.

Danker tweeted this morning that he was “shocked” to learn he had been dismissed “instead of being invited to put my position forward as was originally confirmed”.

“Many of the allegations against me have been distorted, but I recognise that I unintentionally made a number of colleagues feel uncomfortable and I am truly sorry about that,” he said.

The scandal has “plunged the CBI into its biggest crisis” since it was founded in 1965, The Guardian added.

The lobby group, which claims to represent 190,000 businesses, “clashed frequently” with the government over Brexit, said Politico, but recently had “sought to repair relations”. Since the scandal broke, the government has “paused engagement” with the group. The CBI said a member of the board would oversee “a root-and-branch review” of its culture and governance.

Danker will be replaced by Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s former chief economist and current managing director for sustainability and environmental governance at Barclays.

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