Online retailer appoints legal heavyweight to oversee change agenda

Sir Brian Leveson

Manchester online retail giant Boohoo has appointed Sir Brian Leveson to provide independent oversight of the group’s Agenda for Change programme to deliver long-lasting and meaningful change to the group’s supply chain and its business practices.

The process was the result of reports linking Boohoo to Leicester sweatshops.

Only last week, Leicester West MP Liz Kendall called on Boohoo’s executive chairman Mahmud Kamani and chief executive John Lyttle to step down, after she dubbed the firm’s Leicester supply chain as “one of the worst environmental, social and corporate governance scandals in modern UK history.”

Sir Brian will report directly to the board and his reports will be published, bringing both transparency and further independence to the process, said the group today.

He has also appointed both legal, and independent enquiry and enforcement specialists to supplement the Agenda for Change programme to ensure that everyone associated with the group’s supply chain is treated fully in accordance with the law and the principles of ethical trading, today’s announcement said.

It added: “In recent weeks, and as part of significant and continuing investment by the group in this area, significant steps have been taken to put in place the platform that will facilitate delivery of the Agenda for Change programme.”

The group has appointed KPMG to assist with the programme, bringing additional resource, expertise and independence to the process. KPMG will work with the group’s growing responsible sourcing and compliance team, and existing supply chain auditors Bureau Veritas and Verisio.

Group chief executive, Mahmud Kamani, said: “I am encouraged by the progress that has been made to date by our teams since setting out our Agenda for Change programme in September.

“Myself and the board are fully committed to this programme, with the appointments of Sir Brian Leveson and KPMG bringing independent oversight, additional expertise and further transparency to a programme that will help us on our journey to lead the fashion e-commerce market globally in a transparent manner.”

Sir Brian Leveson said: “Boohoo has recognised that it must institute and embed change so that everyone involved in the group’s supply chain is treated fully in accordance with the law and the principles of ethical trading.

“I look forward to providing independent oversight of the Agenda for Change programme and to working with the Boohoo team, KPMG and the other independent experts to achieve this, while, at the same time, providing publicly available progress reports.”

Sir Brian was born in Liverpool and chaired the 2011 public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press, prompted by the News of the World phone hacking affair.

In 1989, he was the lead prosecution counsel at the trial of comedian Ken Dodd, who was charged with tax evasion, but was acquitted at Liverpool Crown Court.

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