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CBI gives information to police ‘relating to report of serious criminal offence’

The CBI said on Thursday it had given the police “additional information relating to a report of a serious criminal offence”, worsening the reputational crisis that has engulfed the UK’s leading business lobby group.

The organisation is embroiled in a scandal involving multiple allegations by employees about alleged workplace misconduct, including an alleged rape at a 2019 staff party that is being investigated by the City of London Police.

The CBI did not specify the nature of the “serious criminal offence” but people familiar with the situation said it was related to new allegations.

The group was made aware of this information late on Wednesday and “immediately” passed it along to the police, “with whom we are liaising closely and who have asked us not to comment further on potentially criminal matters”, the CBI said.

The CBI had already been fighting to secure its future as it confronted two separate waves of allegations of workplace misconduct.

The first set of allegations, which did not include the rape and the most serious accusations, led the CBI to sack the organisation’s director-general Tony Danker last week.

A second set of allegations is still under investigation by law firm Fox Williams and includes the alleged rape, attempted sexual assault and inappropriate touching of a female employee. The CBI has also suspended three employees pending the findings of the internal probe.

In an email to members on Thursday, CBI president Brian McBride said he wanted to them to be “aware” that the group expects “further serious allegations” to be published in The Guardian newspaper, which first reported all the allegations.

He acknowledged that this was a “deeply unsettling time” for members of the CBI, which represents some of the biggest names in corporate Britain including Tesco, Unilever and Barclays.

Danker said on Wednesday that he was being made the “fall guy” for the crisis and that his reputation had been “totally destroyed”. While he conceded he had made colleagues feel “very uncomfortable”, he denied that any of his actions could be described as “misconduct”.

Danker said the allegations directed at him included viewing the public Instagram accounts of CBI staff, inviting selected staff to a karaoke night and sending social messages on work messaging platforms.

The former director-general is locked in a war of words with McBride, who said Danker’s public comments and his description of the events that had led to his dismissal had been “selective”.

The damaging stories have led government ministers to cut ties with the CBI, and the organisation to pause all public events.

Responding to the latest allegations, one former employee said: “I’m not sure how the organisation can survive. In its current form they must be haemorrhaging revenue. Who is going to want to sponsor an event alongside the CBI brand?

“The current actions by the board seem to be about moving the story on rather than real change,” the former employee added.

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