CBI suspends policy and membership activities after exodus

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The Confederation of British Industry has said it will “suspend all policy and membership activity” until it can hold a meeting of its membership in June after dozens of its biggest supporters withdrew from the organisation.

The CBI board said it would put forward proposals for a “refocused” industry body at the meeting in two months’ time.

It came as major companies and trade bodies from across the UK said they were terminating, suspending or reviewing their membership of the group.

A second unnamed employee of the CBI alleged that she had been raped by a colleague in a Guardian article released on Friday.

As a result, we have taken the difficult but necessary decision to suspend all policy and membership activity until an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in June.

“At the EGM we will put forward proposals for a refocused CBI to our membership for them to decide on the future role and purpose of the organisation.

“This work and the cultural reform will be the entire and urgent focus of the organisation over the coming weeks.”

Among the companies that said they were terminating their membership of the business group were NatWest, the John Lewis Partnership, Vodafone, BMW, Aviva, and Virgin Media O2.

While other major employers – including Tesco, Meta, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lloyds Banking Group, Unilever, and Shell – announced that they were suspending all activity with the lobbying group.

Earlier this month, the Government said it would pause all engagement with the CBI after initial reports of misconduct at the group.

In the Guardian report which deepened the crisis on Friday, the woman claimed the alleged rape took place while she was unconscious following a night out while working at a CBI office abroad.

She said she had no recollection of the alleged attack itself but had described in detail the physical signs that led her to believe she had been raped, and was later presented in the office with an explicit photograph.

It is the second rape claim made by a woman at the organisation.

Previously, a member of staff alleged that she was attacked by a manager on a summer boat party in 2019.

Details of the new rape allegation have been passed to police.

City of London Police were already investigating the previous allegation, alongside a series of other misconduct claims from about a dozen workers.

Separately, The Guardian also reported on Friday that a woman based at the organisation’s London office claimed she was stalked by a male colleague in 2018.

Tony Danker allegations
Former CBI director-general Tony Danker was sacked last week after being accused of making unwanted contact with a woman who works for the organisation.

On Wednesday, he said his reputation has been “totally destroyed” by the allegation and claimed he has been made a “fall guy” for a wider crisis.

Mr Danker told the BBC his name had been wrongly associated with separate claims, including the rapes which allegedly happened before he joined the CBI.

After initial allegations, the business group also suspended three other employees and hired law firm Fox Williams to carry out an internal investigation.

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