Tesco chair resigns after allegations of conduct – BBC News

  • By Dearbail Jordan
  • Business Correspondent, BBC News

John Allan steps down as chairman of Tesco following allegations about his behaviour.

Mr Allan, who is also the former head of the CBI trade lobby group, has vigorously denied three of the four allegations against him.

However, board member Byron Grote, who will temporarily replace Allan as chairman, said, “These allegations risk becoming a distraction for Tesco.”

Tesco said it had “no findings to the contrary”.

Mr Alan will leave Tesco in June after eight years in the role.

He said: “I regret to step down prematurely from my position as chairman of Tesco following the anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations made against me, as reported by The Guardian.”

A report in the Guardian newspaper alleged that Alan groped a Tesco employee at the supermarket giant’s annual shareholders’ meeting last year.

It also alleged that Mr. Allan “kidnapped” an employee at a CBI event in 2019. He has previously said that the allegations are “simply untrue”.

He also allegedly made a comment about a CBI employee’s dress and bottom in 2021. Mr. Allan said he had no memory of that incident.

However, he did admit to commenting to a CBI agent in late 2019 about a dress fitting her figure.

Allan said he was “ashamed after making the comment” and immediately apologized.

He was Chairman of CBI between 2018 and 2020 and spent an additional year as Vice President.

After allegations he touched a Tesco employee inappropriately, the supermarket group said it had launched a “thorough review of the allegation”.

The retailer said it has asked colleagues to “come forward if they have concerns about any conduct issues and specifically at Tesco’s 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM)”.

I also reviewed the event video and internal complaint records.

Mr Grote said: “Although we have received no complaints about John’s conduct and no findings of wrongdoing, these allegations could become a distraction for Tesco.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I thank him for his significant contribution to the business,” he added.

Allan said: “These allegations are completely baseless, as evidenced by Tesco’s internal actions.

“There is no evidence of any wrongdoing at the time or at any stage of my tenure at Tesco and I remain determined to prove my innocence.”

Meanwhile, the CBI, Britain’s largest pressure group, is facing separate allegations of sexual misconduct.

These include allegations of rape being investigated by the City of London Police.

After an outside investigation by law firm Fox Williams, the CBI admitted that it had hired “culturally toxic” employees and failed to fire people who sexually harassed female colleagues.

It has since fired some employees.

It also appointed its former chief economist, Ryan Newton-Smith, as managing director.

She replaced Tony Danker who was fired in April after separate complaints of misconduct in the workplace.

Dunker admitted it made some employees feel “very uncomfortable”. He said: I apologize for that.

But he said his name has been wrongly associated with separate allegations, including rape, that allegedly occurred at CBI before he joined.

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