CBI dismisses a 'number of people' following sexual misconduct allegations

By its own admission the CBI may be finished, ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills reports

A number of people have been dismissed from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as the group faces a series of sexual misconduct allegations, it has been confirmed.

The CBI's president, Brian McBride, said the board and senior leaders felt "a collective sense of shame" for having let down staff members at the business group.

He also said a small number of workers displayed "abhorrent" attitudes to the women they worked with.

Mr McBride confirmed a number of employees have been dismissed for not maintaining the high standards expected of them.

The Guardian newspaper has reported that more than a dozen women claim to be victims of sexual harassment as a result of experiences while working at the CBI, including two who allege they were raped.

Mr McBride said the group had not managed to filter out "culturally toxic people" when hiring, and had failed to respond properly when allegations were made internally.

"We tried to find resolution in sexual harassment cases when we should have removed those offenders from our business," explained Mr McBride.

"In retrospect, this last point was our most grievous error, which led to a reluctance amongst women to formalise complaints.

"It allowed that very small minority of staff with regressive - and, in some cases, abhorrent - attitudes towards their female colleagues to feel more assured in their behaviour, and more confident of not being detected.

"And it led victims of harassment or violence to believe that their only option was to take their experiences to a newspaper."

The CBI's former director general, Tony Danker, was also dismissed from the firm last week over misconduct allegations.

Tony Danker Credit: Jacob King/PA

The director general was the subject of some allegations, although not the alleged rapes.

The firm said his conduct "fell short of that expected" of his position.In a statement on Twitter last week, Mr Danker said: “I recognise the intense publicity the CBI has suffered following the revelations of awful events that occurred before my time in office.

“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.

“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. I want to wish my former CBI colleagues every success.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, the chancellor said there is "no point" engaging with the Confederation of British Industry, after dozens of members abandoned the body following the allegations.

Jeremy Hunt said it is "incredibly important" to engage with a representative business body, but "there's no point in engaging with the CBI when their own members have deserted them in their droves."

Speaking to reporters, Mr Hunt questioned whether the CBI is the right group to consult when so many of its influential members have left amidst the ongoing scandal.

"So we want to engage with a body that sticks up for business," Mr Hunt said.

"It is incredibly important for me when I'm constructing budgets to have someone I can turn to who speaks for British business."

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt listens to Rishi Sunak’s speech at the Business Connect event Credit: Daniel Leal/PA

Last week, the CBI suspended all of its policy and membership activities.

Mr Hunt said: "We're obviously very concerned about the allegations of what's happened at the CBI," he continued, labelling the claims "very, very serious."

"But we would like to be able to engage with business through a representative body when we can, but we're not stopping."

A new group, BizUK, has been announced after chief executives were consulted about whether they would be interested in a short-term group that could represent their interests in government.

BizUK doesn't have any members, but its founder Nick Faith told the PA news agency that he hopes to have between 50 and 60 organisations within the next four to six weeks.

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