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Institute of Directors investigates allegations into management processes and governance

The Institute of Directors has had to investigate allegations about how the lobby group is run.

The investigation comes just four years after Lady (Barbara) Judge resigned in a row over sexism and bullying.

The allegations by a whistleblower — a former senior member of staff — raised questions about how senior officials were recruited and contracts for services were awarded. They include suggestions that some roles were not advertised, including the chief operating officer post filled by Esther Teeken. She had worked with director general Jonathan Geldart at accountants Grant Thornton. The commercial director Richard Townsend was also said to have been appointed after working with an interim chairman of the IoD at Edinburgh airport.

The IoD would be expected to uphold the highest standards. It has a Royal Charter that requires it to promote free enterprise, lobby government and set corporate governance standards.

The whistleblower also questioned the award of a contract to Equiom, an Isle of Man firm, to run some financial processes for the IoD. Teeken, thought to be paid around £180,000, had been employed there before she joined the IoD in 2019. She is working her notice to take up a new job in a move unrelated to the allegations.

The IoD said: “These allegations were subject to a thorough investigation and found to be without merit. All senior appointments and major contracts follow a rigorous procedure and are approved by the board. The IoD welcomes scrutiny and has a fully transparent process for handling any complaints.”

Geldart, who is paid a £250,000 salary, arrived in 2019. Judge, who was chair of the IoD for three years until 2018, died in 2020 but always denied allegations about her.

Membership of the IoD has fallen from 35,000 a decade ago to 20,000. Its annual report last week said those numbers were stabilising.

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