1 December 2023 4:10 PM
The CBI hired a law firm to carry out an internal investigation (stock image)

The crisis facing the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) deepened further today after a second woman alleged she was raped by two male colleagues while working at the business group.

The woman claimed the alleged rape took place while she was unconscious following a night-out while working at a CBI office abroad, according to The Guardian. 

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.

It is the second claim from a woman that she was a victim of rape at the organisation. Previously, a member of staff alleged that she was attacked by a manager at a summer boat party in 2019.

John Lewis Partnership, the owner of the department stores and supermarket chain Waitrose, became the latest company to quit CBI on Friday following the allegations, after Insurance company Aviva and savings and retirement giant Phoenix also quit. 

‘Due to the further very serious and ongoing allegations made relating to the CBI, we have decided to end our membership with immediate effect,’ a John Lewis spokesperson said. 

The CBI hired a law firm to carry out an internal investigation (stock image)

A spokesman for Aviva said: ‘In light of the very serious allegations made, and the CBI’s handling of the process and response, we believe the CBI is no longer able to fulfil its core function – to be a representative voice of business in the UK.

‘We have therefore regrettably terminated our membership with immediate effect.’

A spokesman for Phoenix said: ‘Further to the allegations reported this morning, we have taken the decision to resign our membership of the CBI with immediate effect.’ 

Other big companies and trade bodies also announced they plan to leave the CBI. 

The Association of British Insurers said: ‘It has become untenable to retain our membership in light of further serious allegations and we have informed the CBI of our decision to leave with immediate effect.’

People’s Partnership director of policy Phil Brown also said they’d made the decision they can no longer remain members of the CBI, and Zurich UK decided to terminate their membership with immediate effect. 

Details of the new rape allegation have been passed on to police.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed she woke up to find two men in the same room as her after a night of drinking with colleagues.

She alleges the men made remarks that insinuated they had engaged in sexual activity with her, though she has no memory of consenting and can not remember the alleged sexual activity.

The woman also alleges she was shown a photo of herself where she appeared unconscious with a penis in her mouth – which she understood was that of one of the colleagues who allegedly raped her. The Guardian has seen the photograph, which the woman believes was taken at the same time as the alleged rape and which a second source has reportedly confirmed the contents of.

‘I don’t blame the CBI for being raped. I was really young and people took advantage of me after a night of drinking,’ the woman said.

‘I blame the CBI for an atmosphere that was allowed to feed into people’s sense of confidence. That they could act in this way and afterwards feel no worries, no fears of consequences. That they could feel somehow proud, in an office.

‘That there wasn’t a person for me to speak to in HR who I knew of and could trust.’

City of London Police was already investigating the previous rape allegation, alongside a series of other misconduct allegations from around a dozen workers.

Separately, The Guardian also reported today that a woman based at the organisation’s London office claimed she was stalked by a male colleague in 2018.

In response, CBI president Brian McBride said: ‘The latest allegations put to us by The Guardian are abhorrent and our hearts go out to any women who have been victims of the behaviour described.

‘While the CBI was not previously aware of the most serious allegations, it is vital that they are thoroughly investigated now and we are liaising closely with the police to help ensure any perpetrators are brought to justice.

‘We recognise the substance of the harassment report outlined as relating to an allegation made and investigated in January 2018.

‘The finding of harassment was upheld and a sanction was imposed.

‘However, the CBI does not recognise many of the most serious elements of The Guardian story relating to harassment, including the assertion that the individual had told the CBI of feelings of a sexual and violent nature towards the victim; and that he had followed her home.’

The CBI added it is expecting a further report from the law firm conducting an internal investigation later today and will announce steps to ‘bring about the wider change that is needed’ early next week.

On Thursday, the CBI confirmed it passed fresh information to the police regarding a report of a ‘serious criminal offence’.

It said it was ‘liaising closely’ with the authorities and has urged anyone with further information to come forward.

Separately, former CBI director-general Tony Danker was sacked last week after being accused of making unwanted contact with a woman who works for the organisation.

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Tony Danker with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the CBI annual dinner in London in May 2022

On Wednesday, he said his reputation has been ‘totally destroyed’ by the allegation and claimed he has been made a ‘fall guy’ for a wider crisis.

Mr Danker told the BBC his name had been wrongly associated with separate claims, including the rapes which allegedly happened before he joined the CBI.

After initial allegations, the business group also suspended three other employees and hired a law firm, Fox Williams, to carry out an internal investigation.

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11998721/CBI-scandal-deepens-second-woman-alleges-rape.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270


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