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CBI boss Tony Danker has stepped aside following an allegation over his workplace conduct at the UK’s largest business group.

The CBI on Monday said it had been told in January of an allegation regarding its director-general, which was investigated and dealt with “in line with CBI procedure”. It said the investigation “determined that the issue did not require escalation to a disciplinary process”.

However, the business organisation said it had been made aware of further reports regarding Danker’s workplace conduct, which “will lead to an independent investigation into these new matters”.

Danker asked to step aside from his role during the investigation, it added.

“The CBI takes all matters of workplace conduct extremely seriously but it is important to stress that, until this investigation is complete, any new allegations remain unproven and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage,” it said in a statement.

The CBI has hired law firm Fox Williams to oversee the investigation. Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, has taken over on an interim basis.

Danker said in a statement on Twitter: “It’s been mortifying to hear that I have caused offence or anxiety to any colleague. It was completely unintentional, and I apologise profusely. We always strive for the highest standards. I therefore support the decision we’ve taken to review any new allegations independently. And I have decided to step aside while the review takes place and will co-operate fully with it.”

The Guardian, which first reported the investigation, approached the CBI last week about the formal complaint made in January by a female employee about verbal and unwanted contact that she considered sexual harassment, as well as other allegations.

As head of the CBI, Danker has championed workplace diversity and gender balance, most recently arguing last week that the government should increase investment in childcare to help parents back into the workforce.

Danker has been director-general of the CBI since November 2020, and was previously the chief executive of Be the Business, a lobby group. He has also served executive roles at the Guardian News & Media group and at McKinsey.

The CBI represents some of Britain’s biggest businesses such as Tesco, Unilever, Deloitte and Barclays. Danker has worked to restore a stronger relationship with the government after clashes over the impact of Brexit on British businesses after the EU referendum.

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