Florence suspended during Hay bullying probe

Florence suspended during Hay bullying probe

Hay Festival director Peter Florence has been suspended from his role pending the outcome of a grievance procedure from a member of staff, the festival has confirmed.

In a statement shared initially following a media request from the Sunday Times, Hay Festival chair Caroline Michel said: "Peter Florence was suspended on 1st October pending the outcome of a grievance procedure initiated by one of our staff. He has since been signed off sick, which has delayed the conclusion of that process. 

"[Finance director] Tania Hudson has been appointed interim c.e.o. to lead the festival team during this period, alongside international director Cristina Fuentes La Roche. The Hay Festival board would like to reassure all supporters and sponsors that the festival is in good hands.

"We are not at liberty to offer any further comment on personnel issues until this matter is resolved." 

A lawyer for Florence told the Sunday Times: “My client is involved in an ongoing internal process and, in accordance with his duty of confidentiality with the Hay Festival, he is unable to provide further comment.”

The festival clarified "to avoid further speculation" that the grievance procedure in question was not initiated by Hay Abu Dhabi curator Caitlin McNamara, who in the Sunday Times last week accused Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Emirates minister of tolerance, of serious sexual assault in the run-up to the inaugural event in February. The sheikh has denied the claims.

Florence founded the Hay Festival with his father Norman in 1987.