Police launch probe after CBI boss Tony Danker sacked over misconduct claims

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Police have launched an investigation after the Confederation of British Industry sacked boss Tony Danker and suspended three other employees following a series of misconduct allegations.

The board of the business group said Mr Danker’s conduct “fell short” of what was expected of him and said there had been “serious failings” in how it acted as an organisation.

Now the City of London Police has confirmed that the force is investigating the claims.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Waight said: “The City of London Police takes all acts of sexual misconduct and violence against women and girls extremely seriously.

“We approached the CBI following media reports and our investigations are at a very early stage. It would not be appropriate to comment any further at this time.”

“I recognise the intense publicity the CBI has suffered following the revelations of awful events that occurred before my time in office,” he tweeted, referring to allegations against himself and others at the CBI.

“I was appalled to learn about them for the first time last week.

“I was nevertheless shocked to learn this morning that I had been dismissed from the CBI, instead of being invited to put my position forward as was originally confirmed.

CBI annual conference
Tony Danker has been sacked as CBI boss (Jacob King/PA)

The trade body has been rocked by allegations of a toxic workplace culture since Mr Danker was last month accused of allegedly making unwanted contact with a woman who works for the CBI.

She considered the contact to be sexual harassment, the Guardian reported at the time.

The group launched an investigation into his behaviour and he agreed to step down in the meantime. The first part of this investigation by an outside law firm has been completed, the CBI said.

“Tony Danker is dismissed with immediate effect following the independent investigation into specific complaints of workplace misconduct against him,” it said.

“The board wishes to make clear he is not the subject of any of the more recent allegations in The Guardian but has determined that his own conduct fell short of that expected of the director-general.”

Last week, the Guardian said it had been approached by more than a dozen women who claimed to be victims of various forms of sexual misconduct by senior members of the CBI who were not Mr Danker.

One woman said she was raped at a staff party.

The board appointed former chief economist Rain Newton-Smith to take the top job from Mr Danker. She left the organisation just last month to join Barclays.

The CBI said: “The allegations that have been made over recent weeks about the CBI have been devastating.

“While investigations continue into a number of these, it is already clear to all of us that there have been serious failings in how we have acted as an organisation. We must do better, and we must be better.

The CBI said that the outside law firm would continue its investigation and the business group would cooperate fully if the police launch any investigations.

The group will also launch a root-and-branch review of its culture, governance and processes, and create a new position of chief people officer.

“We wish to thank all those who have had the courage to speak out, through internal or external channels, and encourage them to keep doing so,” it added.

Following her appointment, Ms Newton-Smith said: “It’s a huge privilege to be asked to return to the CBI to serve as its director-general.

“I passionately believe in the power of business to transform our society. I want the CBI to be an organisation of which we can all be proud.

“I am grateful and determined to lead the team through this challenging time. I look forward to working with the team, our members and stakeholders as we work together to achieve sustainable growth.”

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society said: “The stories of sexual harassment at the CBI are horrifying and our thoughts are with the women affected.

“Whilst the alleged incidents themselves are terrible in their own right, we are hugely disappointed to see that the CBI did not have effective policies in place to ensure that allegations were treated seriously and sensitively.

“We know that this is a common story. The Government committed to tackling workplace sexual harassment in 2021, and there is currently a draft Bill in the House of Lords, which the Government has supported, which would ensure all businesses have those policies in place.

“We urge them to prioritise ensuring that these protections are in place, as women cannot wait any longer for safe, respectful workplaces.”

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