The director-general of one of the UK’s largest business groups was dismissed after an investigation into complaints about his conduct at work.
He has been asked to leave with immediate effect and will not receive a redundancy package, the group said. He claimed that allegations against him were “distorted” and that he was shocked by the sacking.
A number of other senior figures within the CBI are also being investigated after several complaints were made, and the company faces an uncertain future now that allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic culture are being investigated.
So what is the CBI and why was Mr Danker sacked? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the CBI?
The Confederation of British Industry is one of the UK’s largest business lobby group, and claims to represent 190,000 businesses that cumulatively employ almost seven million people. It promotes the business interests of its members by lobbying and advising governments internationally and through networking with other companies.
Among its members are Lloyds Bank, Tesco and HSBC, and bodies including The National Farmers’ Union, the Country Land and Business association, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed and the National Federation of Builders.
Who is Tony Danker?
The former boss of CBI, Tony Danker had led the organisation since November 2020. He tried to forge a better relationship with the UK Government, after Boris Johnson iced out the organisation because of it’s anti-Brexit leaning.
The lobby group had lost key access to meetings with Cabinet ministers in 2020 after criticising Government strategy. Weekly meetings had been paused, and the Government had begun to be openly critical of the group.
Mr Danker had previously worked at The Guardian’s parent company, Guardian News & Media, as international director and chief strategy officer between 2010 and 2017.
Prior to this he was a policy adviser during the Labour government from 2008 to 2010 in the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.
Why was he sacked?
In March he stepped aside from his role at CBI, after The Guardian approached the organisation regarding a formal complaint that was made against him in January.
The Guardian previously reported the formal complaint against Danker was made in January by a female CBI employee, and it is understood she claimed he had made unwanted contact with her, which she considered to be sexual harassment.
Other claims were made by more 12 women describing sexual misconduct by senior figures at the company.
Fox Williams, a law firm was hired to investigate him, and following the conclusion of the investigation the board of the CBI said that Danker’s beahviour “fell short of that expected of the director general”. The findings of the investigation into him for now remain unpublished.
The board said it wished to make clear that Mr Danker was not the subject of any of the more recent allegations in The Guardian, which include the allegation of rape at a summer boat party in 2019.
In a statement on Twitter, 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.”
Three other CBI employees have been suspended while further investigations into other allegations are made, and the company has said it is liaising with the police and will cooperate with any police investigations.
In a statement, the CBI board said: “We apologise to the victims of this organisational failure, including those impacted by the revulsion we have all felt at hearing their stories. Nobody should feel unsafe in their workplace.”
Danker is to be replaced by the CBI’s recently departed chief economist Rain Newton-Smith.