Confederation of British Industry faces fresh misconduct claims

LONDON – More than a dozen women have alleged they were victims of sexual misconduct by senior figures at Britain’s most influential business lobby, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a newspaper reported on Monday.

The claims, including rape at a staff party on a boat on the River Thames, come a month after the head of the CBI stepped aside to allow for a probe into his “workplace conduct”.

The new revelations stem from interviews given to the Guardian newspaper by the more than a dozen women who work at the CBI or have recently worked there.

They complained to the paper about a “toxic culture” at the business lobby organisation.

As well as the rape allegation, another woman alleged she was sexually assaulted at the same boat party.

A further accusation involved a senior manager sending explicit photos to junior female colleagues over several years.

Other claims concerned unprofessional behaviour by senior staff members towards younger female colleagues, and alleged cocaine usage at official events.

“There are some kind men who work at the CBI. But there are also men who prey on younger women,” one of those who had come forward told The Guardian.

“The experience of being targeted destroyed my confidence at work, and in other parts of my personal life.”

Another woman said her experiences had been “scary”, telling the paper: “There is a real danger from some of these people.”

A CBI spokesperson said an external law firm was leading an investigation into “all recent allegations”.

CBI director general Tony Danker stepped aside in March pending the outcome of an independent probe after questions about his “workplace conduct”.

The Guardian had reported the previous week that the allegations involved a female employee.

In the statement Monday, the CBI spokesperson said it “treated and continues to treat all matters of workplace conduct with the utmost seriousness”. AFP

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