Peter Florence, the founder and director of the Hay Festival, has been suspended from his role pending an “ongoing internal process” after a member of staff made allegations of bullying, The Guardian has reported. According to that newspaper, the Chair of the Hay Festival, Caroline Michel, said that Florence was suspended on 1 October “pending the outcome of a grievance procedure initiated by one of our staff”. He has since been signed off sick, and Michel said in a statement that she was “not at liberty to offer any further comment on personnel issues until this matter is resolved”.
The suspension follows news last week that the curator of the inaugural Hay festival in Abu Dhabi, Caitlin McNamara, has accused the United Arab Emirates’ minister of tolerance of sexually assaulting her in February. McNamara, who spoke out about the alleged assault by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan last weekend to Channel 4 News, reported it to embassy staff and festival staff at the time. The festival went ahead as planned, and McNamara remains an employee of the festival, which is paying for her counselling. Nahyan has denied the allegations. The Guardian states that a Hay Festival source confirmed the complaint about Florence did not come from McNamara.