The chairwoman of one of the UK’s leading business groups is reported to have stepped down in response to allegations of serious misconduct.
Several news outlets reported that an investigation had been conducted into Lady Barbara Judge, chairwoman of the influential Institute of Directors (IoD), following allegations raised by a whistleblower.
The Times reported that Lady Judge’s alleged misconduct includes making racist and sexist slurs and bullying other IoD staff members.
The IoD is known as a promoter of good corporate governance practices and frequently criticises and calls out other organisations and companies for falling short in this area.
Citing an email from one board director, Sky News reported that the investigation into complaints against Lady Judge, conducted by law firm Hill Dickinson, is estimated to have cost more than £60,000.
The broadcaster also reported that the investigation had concluded that the chairwoman had sought to appoint close allies to the IoD board and had used her role to further her own external commercial interests.
She is reported to have instructed the City law firm Addleshaw Goddard to represent her.
A spokesman for the IoD said: “Our HR department was made aware of a number of allegations from staff members concerning the conduct of non-executive members of our board.
“Senior independent council member Dame Joan Stringer commissioned a full investigation into the allegations which was carried out by independent experts from the Hill Dickinson law firm.”
The spokesman added that a detailed report and findings would be discussed by members of the IoD council on Thursday afternoon.
The chairwoman was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2010 for services to the nuclear and financial services industries. In the same year, she was also named in BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour 100 Most Powerful Women list.
She has served as chairwoman of the Pension Protection Fund and became the first female chair of the IoD in 2015.