Tuesday, March 13, 2018 08:33 AM / TheGuardian
Boardroom crisis deepens over
allegations that lobby group failed to properly investigate claims against
The crisis at the Institute of Directors
has intensified with the resignation of its chair, Barbara Judge, and two of
its most senior directors amid claims the business lobby group failed to
conduct a fair investigation into allegations Judge was a bully who made racist
comments about staff.
Lady Judge, 71, who is facing 41
allegations of inappropriate behaviour, quit as the trade body’s head on Friday
and was followed by deputy chair Sir Ken Olisa and non-executive Arnold Wagner.
The resignations follow a five-hour meeting
of members of the business lobby group’s council on Thursday to consider the
findings of an inquiry, led by the law firm Hill Dickinson, into the claims
about Judge’s conduct, which resulted in the IoD suspending her.
Judge had previously “voluntarily” stepped
aside temporarily from her role.
In her resignation letter Judge said: “I
continue to strongly refute the allegations made against me and remain deeply
disturbed by the gross and conspiratorial mishandling of the process which has
led to the damaging circumstances in which I and the institute are now placed.
“The clear flaws in this process were
identified in the statement I read to the council yesterday, which included the
institute’s failure to give me an opportunity to reply to the allegations, the
leaking of a confidential legal document to the press and the
misrepresentations made by the institute and its investigators to my legal
Olisa, who is also the first black
lord-lieutenant of Greater London, wrote in his resignation letter: “Instead of
showcasing good governance, we have found ourselves in a surreal world of
flawed processes, flagrant disregard for the principles of natural justice and
a roughshod journey over the laws of the Institute.
“Senior leaders covertly recording private
conversations, systemically disregarding due process and leaking confidential
material to the press have combined to make the IoD a laughing stock in the
court of public opinion.”
Earlier on Friday the IoD said it had
suspended Judge “pending further investigation into the matters raised and the
The law firm’s report, which had been commissioned by
the business group’s senior independent council member, Lady Joan Stringer, is
understood to have begun three months ago.
The IoD said a full investigation had
been commissioned after its human resources department was “made aware of a
number of allegations from staff members concerning the conduct of
non-executive members of our board”.
Judge is alleged to have bullied her
assistant and reduced her to tears on several occasions. She is also claimed to
have said: “We have three inexperienced people doing a job [on the IoD’s
secretariat] when one experienced person could do it and they are making
mistakes. And so the problem is we have one black and we have one pregnant
woman and that is the worst combination we could possibly have. No, two blacks
and one pregnant woman. I couldn’t believe it!”
The words are understood to have been
recorded covertly by the IoD’s director general, Stephen Martin.