Steven Holliday, chief executive of National Grid's British-based parent, was publicly accused this week of having "destroyed" the career of a former company vice president because the woman "could no longer meet his sexual demands," according to British media reports.
National Grid USA Thursday acknowledged the report in a media statement and an internal memo saying the claims were "investigated and found to be without foundation."
The allegations were made before 2,000 "stunned shareholders" by the parents of Laura Barker, 32, a former vice president of marketing of National Grid USA, at a shareholders meeting of Marks & Spencer in London. Holliday, a married father of two, sits on the board of retailer Marks & Spencer and was present when the charges were made.
During a public question-and-answer session, Barker's mother, Brigid Barker, stood at the microphone and accused Holliday of "breaching his own ethics policy" with her daughter.
"He talks about supporting the young, yet he pursued her, used his power to control her job and destroyed her career when she could no longer meet his sexual demands," the London-based Daily Mail and other media reported. Laura Barker reportedly has had difficulty in her career since departing National Grid in 2010 under terms the company described as "mutual agreement."
"We have known about the allegation made against Steve at the . . . [Marks and Spencer meeting] since 2010," National Grid USA spokeswoman Jackie Barry said in a prepared statement. "It has been fully investigated and found to be without foundation. The complainant has since left National Grid by mutual agreement."
Attempts to reach Barker at her mother's London home were unsuccessful.He previously worked at ExxonMobil, as did Barker, but the two did not work together there, the Daily Mail said.Holliday became the public face for National Grid when the companyin 2006 and 2007 was attempting to acquire KeySpan. Those efforts ended in the successful purchase of the company in 2007. LIPA that year renewed a contract for National Grid to manage the local electric grid. In December, LIPA trustees voted to award the contract to PSEG of New Jersey.
In the employee memo shown to Newsday, the company said: "As you might expect, yesterday's incident has been deeply upsetting for all concerned. However, the allegation made against Steve is over two years old, and he anticipates . . . [operating]business as usual and [will] maintain all media and business commitments this week." Barry declined to comment on the memo.