Thursday, March 08, 2018

Lady Barbara Judge ‘Made Racist Slurs About Staff’
Graham Ruddick, Alex Ralph
March 8 2018, 12:01am,
The Times

Lady Barbara Judge faces 41 separate allegations, including claims she said that “blacks can get aggressive”

One of Britain’s most senior business leaders bullied her staff and made racist comments about them, according to preliminary findings of a legal investigation seen by The Times.

Lady Judge, 71, chairwoman of the Institute of Directors, is facing 41 allegations, which also include sexism and unreasonable behaviour.

The draft report into the claims found that she left staff fearing recriminations and exposed the 115-year-old business group to employment tribunal claims.

Last night Lady Judge said that she had “voluntarily decided to step aside temporarily from my role as chair and contest these allegations and the flawed process conducted so far” when this newspaper put the findings to her. She complained that the investigation had not given her the opportunity to respond to the allegation.

The inquiry was commissioned by Dame Joan Stringer, the IOD’s senior independent council member, after complaints to human resources. The draft findings were sent to the board and council on Tuesday and are due to be considered in a meeting today.

The executive summary of the draft report, which was compiled by Caroline Prosser, a lawyer at Hill Dickinson, found that Lady Judge:

• Made racist and derogatory statements about staff, including saying that “blacks can get aggressive”.

• Told the IOD’s director-general that “the problem is we have one black and we have one pregnant woman [on the IOD’s secretariat] and that is the worst combination we could possibly have”.

• Bullied her assistant and reduced her to tears on a number of occasions, including when she got name badges wrong for an event, and made her stand on the staircase for an hour “whilst a painter considered the best light in which to paint a portrait of Lady Judge”.

• Requested IOD staff help to organise a show for her fashion range at the Chinese embassy last September.

• Put undue pressure on the facilities manager by requesting she meet a company that her son held an interest in over a contract to fit out the third floor of the IoD’s Pall Mall office, despite the tender having been awarded.

• Sought support by buying people gifts and inviting them to her apartment, and failed to disclose conflicts of interest.

Lady Judge said: “This case concerns confidential allegations of a nature that I take very seriously. I have co-operated in full with the IoD’s investigation in order to support its efforts to resolve this matter fairly.

“It is incredibly disappointing that a draft confidential legal report has been leaked before a decision has even been made to proceed and before I have been given an opportunity to respond to its findings, thereby denying me any right to a fair hearing.”

The document also raises concerns about other board members who “enabled Lady Judge to behave in this way by failing to act despite being informed of employees’ concerns and despite possibly even witnessing her behaviour first hand themselves”.

Ms Prosser concluded that the IoD “may wish” to investigate the conduct of Sir Kenneth Olisa, the deputy chairman and the founder of Restoration Partners, the technology merchant bank, and Arnold Wagner, another board member and chairman of the Pension Protection Fund.

In an email to the IoD board and council, seen by The Times, Sir Kenneth said that Dame Joan’s approach “patently fails to comply with the principles of natural justice and to the laws of the institute and is fatally flawed from a procedural perspective”.

It states: “It is defamatory, riddled with errors of fact, false accusations and unevidenced opinions.” In a separate email to Ms Prosser he said that she “strayed well beyond your brief, which was explicitly, to establish findings of fact and to make recommendations. Instead you have made judgments which are, in effect, merely personal opinions as your ‘court’ hasn’t provided any opportunity for the accused to respond.”

This “corporate train wreck”, as Sir Kenneth called it, is highly damaging to the IoD, one of Britain’s most powerful business groups, which was founded in 1903. It has more than 30,000 members.

Mr Wagner said: “I have seen the executive summary of the draft report. Given the report has yet to be considered by the IoD I will not comment at this stage on its overall contents. However, as it specifically relates to me, I wholly reject the comments in the executive summary.”

No woman is better connected

Lady Judge was once touted as the “best connected woman in Britain” and is considered one of the most influential business figures (Alex Ralph writes).

The profile of Lady Judge on the website of the Institute of Directors, of which she is chairwoman, says she has “had a long and distinguished career in law and banking before becoming the IoD’s first female chair”.

The career of the New York-born businesswoman has taken in Washington, Hong Kong and London and she has become a champion of women in business. Lady Judge was married to Sir Paul Judge, the businessman and philanthropist, who died last year. She was the youngest person, at 33, to be made a member of America’s Securities and Exchange Commission. She was also the first female director of Samuel Montagu & Co, the British merchant bank.

She has spent more time in the UK since moving to London in the mid-1990s after being appointed an executive director of News International, then the parent company of The Times. She became chairwoman of the Pension Protection Fund and of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. In a profile, the “wraithlike American blonde” was said to have “more jobs than seems possible”.

Her elevation into the heart of the establishment was confirmed when she was appointed CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2010 for services to the nuclear and financial services industry.

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