Sacked CBI boss says reputation ‘totally destroyed’ by misconduct allegations

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The recently sacked boss of the Confederation of British Industry says his “reputation has been totally destroyed” following misconduct allegations.

Police launched an investigation after the business group fired Tony Danker and suspended three other employees.

The board of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said Mr Danker’s conduct “fell short” of what was expected of him and said there had been “serious failings” in how it acted as an organisation.

In his first interview since his firing on April 11, Mr Danker told the BBC his name had been wrongly associated with separate claims.

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only BBC handout photo of Tony Danker, Director-General CBI appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday Morning
The former CBI boss insisted he had ‘never used sexually suggestive language with people’ at the company (Jeff Overs/BBC)

While Mr Danker acknowledged he had made some staff feel “very uncomfortable” and he apologised for that, the former CBI boss insisted he had “never used sexually suggestive language with people” at the company.

“You know, there was an incident somebody raised a complaint about unwanted contact, which was verbal contact,” he added.

“There was never any physical contact. I’ve never had any physical contact. I’ve never used any sexual language. I’ve never propositioned anybody.”

CBI Director-General Tony Danker speaking at the opening of the CBI Net-Zero Conference in London
Mr Danker believed he had been made the ‘fall guy’ by CBI (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Danker said his reputation had been “totally trashed” because these claims – which included drug use as well as serious sexual assault -emerged a matter of weeks after the CBI disclosed that it was looking into separate allegations of misconduct against him.

He admitted to messaging around 200 individual staff members at the company but insisted it was to try and build “rapport” during lockdown and with colleagues who continued to work from home.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Waight earlier confirmed the City of London Police approached CBI following media reports of misconduct, but investigations were still at a “very early stage”.

“I recognise the intense publicity the CBI has suffered following the revelations of awful events that occurred before my time in office,” he tweeted, referring to allegations against himself and others at the CBI.

“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.

CBI annual conference
Tony Danker was sacked as CBI boss on April 11 (Jacob King/PA)

The trade body has been rocked by allegations of a toxic workplace culture since Mr Danker was last month accused of allegedly making unwanted contact with a woman who works for the CBI.

She considered the contact to be sexual harassment, The Guardian reported at the time.

The group launched an investigation into his behaviour and he agreed to step down in the meantime. The first part of this investigation by an outside law firm has been completed, the CBI said.

“Tony Danker is dismissed with immediate effect following the independent investigation into specific complaints of workplace misconduct against him,” it said.

“The board wishes to make clear he is not the subject of any of the more recent allegations in The Guardian but has determined that his own conduct fell short of that expected of the director-general.”

It comes after The Guardian said it was approached by more than a dozen women who claimed to be victims of various forms of sexual misconduct by senior members of the CBI who were not Mr Danker.

One woman said she was raped at a staff party.

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