CBI ‘suspending’ all activity after firms pull membership over second rape allegation

The CBI has said it is “suspending all policy and membership activity” until an extraordinary general meeting in June, after dozens of firms ended or paused their relationship with the trade body following allegations of sexual misconduct against staff

The trade body’s future is in doubt after an exodus of corporate members following reports of a second rape allegation by a female employee.

“We are deeply sorry, it said in a statement late on Friday announcing the move.

NatWest joined the John Lewis Partnership, BMW and Virgin Media O2 in cancelling their involvement, which comes days after director general Tony Danker was sacked over separate allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Other major employers – such as Asda, Lloyds Banking Group, Unilever, Scottish Power, the British Beer and Pub Association, and Shell – have also suspended all activity with the lobbying group.

In the statement, the CBI board said: “We want to properly understand from our colleagues, members, experts and stakeholders how they envisage our future role and purpose.

As a result, we have taken the difficult but necessary decision to suspend all policy and membership activity until an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in June.

“At the EGM we will put forward proposals for a refocused CBI to our membership for them to decide on the future role and purpose of the organisation.

“This work and the cultural reform will be the entire and urgent focus of the organisation over the coming weeks.”

The crisis facing the trade group deepened after The Guardian reported on Friday that the woman claimed she was raped by two male colleagues while she was unconscious following a night-out while working at a CBI office abroad.

She said she had no recollection of the rape itself but had described in detail the physical signs that led her to believe she was raped, and was later presented in the office with an explicit photograph.

Previously, a member of staff alleged that she was attacked by a manager on a summer boat party in 2019.

City of London Police were already investigating the first rape allegation, alongside a series of other misconduct claims from about a dozen workers.

On Wednesday, Mr Danker said his reputation has been “totally destroyed” by the separate allegations made against him and claimed he has been made a “fall guy” for a wider crisis.

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