Tony Danker, the boss of the business leaders’ lobby group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has stepped aside while an independent investigation is carried out into complaints about his conduct.

The CBI said it had investigated allegations concerning the director-general in January, which was looked into and dealt with “in line with CBI procedure”. It had “determined that the issue did not require escalation to a disciplinary process”.

CBI said it was recently made aware of new reports regarding Danker’s workplace conduct, which “will lead to an independent investigation into these new matters”.

An outside legal firm had been appointed to examine the complaints it said. The fresh inquiry reportedly followed ‘informal reports of concerns’ made this month.

Tony Danker said on social media that he was “mortified” to hear that he had caused “offence or anxiety to any colleague”. “It was completely unintentional, and I apologise profusely,” he wrote.

The orignal formal complaint involved a female CBI employee who claims Mr Danker made unwanted contact with her and regarded his conduct to be sexual harassment.

“The allegation was investigated thoroughly and was dealt with comprehensively, in line with CBI procedure,” said CBI president Brian McBride. “The CBI investigation determined that the issue did not require escalation to a disciplinary process.”

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In a statement the CBI 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,” it added.

“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.

It has hired Joanna Chatterton, head of the employment law at Fox Williams, to lead the investigation. Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, has replaced Danker on an interim basis.

Mr Danker, a former adviser to the Treasury, was appointed to lead Britain’s biggest employers’ group in 2020.

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