Apr 11, 2023
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Scandal-hit CBI fires chief, Newton-Smith returns to take helm

Apr 11, 2023

The Confederation of British Industry said it had fired its director-general Tony Danker and suspended three others after an investigation into complaints of workplace misconduct at the leading business group.


One of Britain's best-known business organisations, the CBI said it had appointed its former chief economist, Rain Newton-Smith, to become its new leader.

"The allegations that have been made over recent weeks about the CBI have been devastating," a CBI statement said on Tuesday. "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.”

Danker stepped aside in March while the CBI conducted a review into his behaviour.

The Guardian newspaper said a complaint was submitted in January by a female CBI employee and more allegations had been brought by other staff members subsequently.

Danker said in a statement on Tuesday that he was "truly sorry" that he had "unintentionally made a number of colleagues feel uncomfortable”.

"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.”

The CBI, which represents the views of many of Britain's biggest companies to the government and more widely, has in recent years clashed with the government over Brexit policy.

Last week it halted its public events after a series of further allegations — including one of rape at a staff party in 2019, as well as a separate sexual assault and reports of cocaine use — were reported in the Guardian.

A number of businesses and the government have expressed their concern over the revelations and whether they should continue to work with the lobbying group. A spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said ministers and senior officials would pause engagement until the investigation had been completed.

The CBI said Danker — who joined the organisation in November 2020 — was not the subject of the more recent allegations but that his conduct "fell short of that expected of the director general”.

Danker said he had no knowledge of the other allegations until last week.

The CBI said three other employees were suspended pending further investigation into a number of ongoing allegations.

"The CBI is liaising with the police and has made clear its intention to cooperate fully with any police investigations," the statement said.

Newton-Smith, who spent her early career as an economist at the Bank of England, left the CBI in March to join Barclays where she is Managing Director for Strategy and Policy, Sustainability and ESG.

"I want the CBI to be an organisation of which we can all be proud," she said.

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