Apr 23, 2023
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John Lewis, M&S, Crown Estate and more drop or pause CBI ties as scandal rumbles on

Apr 23, 2023

A raft of major UK retailers have ended or paused their memberships of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) after yet more allegations of sexual abuse emerged putting the future of the business lobbying group in peril.

M&S - Photo: Sandra Halliday

John Lewis and Unilever are among 12 leading business to have left the organisation while M&S, which had already raised public concerns about the crisis, joined Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Regent Street landlord The Crown Estate and Asda among 17 firms suspending membership.

A new allegation of rape at the body has emerged together with a report from The Guardian newspaper that includes reports of sexual assault at the CBI’s overseas offices. 

John Lewis said it made the decision to quit membership of the CBI "due to the further very serious and ongoing allegations”.

Meanwhile, the UK government had already announced that it was pausing its engagement with the group.

The CBI, which represents 190,000 firms and employs more than 300 people, has been in crisis since allegations of a rape at a CBI summer party in 2019 and other sexual misconduct at the organisation emerged earlier this month.

The group's director-general, Tony Danker, was dismissed over separate complaints while three employees have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by law firm Fox Williams.

The return of former CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith has been fast-tracked for her to assume the vacated director-general's office within days.

The CBI has suspended all activity until June when it would put forward proposals to restructure the organisation. The Fox Williams investigation into numerous alleged offences has been delivered to the group which will communicate its findings and resulting actions early next week. 
The group, which has been the spokesbody of Britain's blue-chip companies for 58 years, said in a statement: “The CBI shares the shock and revulsion at the events that have taken place in our organisation, and at past failures that allowed these events to happen.

"We are deeply sorry and express our profound regret to the women who have endured these horrific experiences.”

It added: ”The board will be communicating its response to this and other steps we are taking to bring about the wider change that is needed early next week."

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