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Saturday May 20, 2023 – Tesco revealed that its chairman John Allan will quit next month because allegations of misconduct ‘risk becoming a distraction’ to the business.

Britain’s biggest supermarket chain said it had conducted a thorough review of Mr. Allan’s behaviour during Tesco’s annual general meeting in 2022 and found no evidence or complaints in relation to the AGM, ‘or at all in his tenure as Tesco chair’.

According to Mail Online, Mr. Allan has faced four allegations in the media in relation to his personal conduct , three of which he ‘vigorously denied’.

In relation to the fourth, he ‘unreservedly apologised’ for inappropriate comments made to a female CBI employee.

He will step down at Tesco’s AGM on June 16 and the firm has begun looking for his successor, with board member Byron Grote stepping in as interim chairman for now.

Today, Mr. Allan said the claims against him were ‘utterly baseless’, although he had previously apologised for the allegation that he commented on a woman’s figure.

Mr Allan responded to the claims in a statement sent to MailOnline, separate to the Tesco announcement.

He said: ‘It is with regret that I am having to prematurely stand down from my position as chair of Tesco PLC following the anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations made against me, as reported by the Guardian.

‘These allegations are utterly baseless, as the internal procedures undertaken by Tesco prove. Tesco undertook an ‘extensive internal review’ which included inviting Tesco employees and ex-employees to come forward on an anonymous basis if they had concerns about my conduct.

‘Tesco also conducted outreach to those who attended the meeting where the incident allegedly happened, and video footage of the meeting has also been reviewed.

‘There is no evidence of any wrongdoing at that time or at any stage of my chairmanship at Tesco and I remain determined to prove my innocence.’

Mr. Grote said today: ‘John has made a valuable contribution to Tesco during his eight years as chair. He has successfully led the board through the turnaround and Covid whilst helping to rebuild the business.

‘While we have received no complaints about John’s conduct and made no findings of wrongdoing, these allegations risk becoming a distraction to Tesco.

‘On behalf of the board, I thank him for his substantial contribution to the business. We are well advanced in our search for a new chair and will make an announcement in due course.’

Last week Mr. Allan denied allegations of inappropriate touching by two women.

The prominent business leader was president of the crisis-stricken Confederation of British Industry (CBI) business group until 2020, and vice president for a further year.

The Guardian newspaper reported on May 9 that Mr. Allan – who has been chairman of Tesco since 2015 – allegedly touched the bottom of a senior Tecso employee at the retailer’s AGM last June.

Mr. Allan was also accused of allegedly touching the bottom of a member of staff at the CBI during its annual dinner in 2019. He said the allegations were ‘simply untrue’.

The 74-year-old also denied claims in the newspaper that he made ‘inappropriate remarks’ on those occasions as well as similar, separate comments to female workers at the CBI in 2019 and 2021.

It was reported that some of the women were offended by the alleged actions and considered them to be sexual harassment.

Mr. Allan denied all but one allegation, making a comment about the appearance of a CBI staffer in 2019, which she said was offensive.

A spokesman for Mr. Allan said last week that he was ‘mortified’ after making the comment and ‘immediately apologised’. He added: ‘The person concerned agreed the matter was closed and no further action was taken.

‘Regarding the other claims, they are simply untrue. Even so, Mr Allan requested that Tesco and Fox Williams – who were instructed by the CBI to conduct an investigation following various allegations – investigate them.

‘Fox Williams decided not to, and Tesco are not aware of and have not received any complaints about Mr Allan’s conduct either at the 2022 AGM or over the eight years that he has been chairman of Tesco.’

It comes after the CBI trade body has been shaken by allegations of widespread sexual harassment over the past two months.

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