CBI boss Tony Danker steps aside amid investigation into ‘workplace misconduct’

Tony Danker said he was 'mortified' over the allegations and has stepped aside while the inquiry takes place. Credit: PA

The boss of one of the UK's largest business groups has stepped aside as an investigation is carried out into complaints about his conduct in the workplace.

Tony Danker, director-general of the business lobby group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said on Twitter it was "mortifying" to hear that he had caused "offence or anxiety to any colleague".

"It was completely unintentional, and I apologise profusely," he wrote, as he said he'd cooperate fully with the investigation.

Fresh claims came to light following a previous allegation made about Mr Danker's behaviour in January.

The group said the complaint was "dealt with comprehensively, in line with CBI procedure" at the time, but ultimately found that “the issue did not require escalation to a disciplinary process”.

However, last Thursday the group said it was made aware of new reports about Mr Danker's conduct and has now launched an independent inquiry.

It came after The Guardian newspaper approached the CBI over the complaints, which are reported to include claims from a female employee that Mr Danker made “unwanted contact with her and considered this unwanted conduct to be sexual harassment”.

In a statement, the group said: “On March 2, the CBI was made aware of new reports regarding Tony Danker’s workplace conduct.

“We have now taken steps to initiate an independent investigation into these new matters.

“Tony Danker asked to step aside from his role as director-general of the CBI while the independent investigation into these matters takes place.

“The CBI takes all matters of workplace conduct extremely seriously but it is important to stress that, until this investigation is complete, any new allegations remain unproven and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Mr Danker with Rishi Sunak at the annual CBI conference in November 2022. Credit: PA

Mr Danker added in his Twitter statement: “The CBI is the employers’ organisation, and I am very proud to be its leader.

“We always strive for the highest standards. I therefore support the decision we’ve taken to review any new allegations independently.”

The CBI represents around 190,000 businesses across a variety of sectors in the UK.

Mr Danker took over at the helm of the organisation in November 2020, replacing Dame Carolyn Fairbairn.

Mr Danker had previously been the first chief executive of Be The Business, a body founded by the Chancellor and a group of FTSE 100 chairs to support UK business growth.

The latest complaints were made a day after the CBI’s future work conference, which included speeches from the education secretary Gillian Keegan and deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner.

Matthew Fell, the chief UK policy director at the CBI, will now lead the group on an interim basis during the probe.

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