Princess Beatrice is facing calls to quit a scandal-hit tech firm after its multi-millionaire founder was sensationally accused of sexual harassment and assault during a US congressional hearing.
The royal is employed in New York as vice-president of strategy and partnerships at Afiniti, which is fighting that allegations that Zia Chishti harassed, threatened and sexually assaulted a female staff member.
Beatrice represented the company at the meeting of world leaders at Davos in 2019. She is not currently working at the firm while on maternity leave, and joined in early 2017 before some of the alleged assaults.
Harriet Wistrich, the founder of the centre for Women’s Justice, said Mr Chishti ‘should consider his position’ and that other executives such as Beatrice should do the same following the allegations.
It comes as former prime minister David Cameron resigned as chairman of the advisory board to the company.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said he had ‘absolutely no knowledge’ of the claims until the public testimony and stressed they allegedly took place before he began chairing the board in 2019.
Ex-employee Tatiana Spottiswoode, 28, has alleged that Mr Chishti, 50, groomed her when she was 21 and then assaulted her after she was hired in 2016.
He then allegedly told her that ‘he should have had sex with me when I was thirteen years old’, according to testimony she gave to a US Congressional committee.
Princess Beatrice is facing calls to quit scandal-hit Afiniti software company after its multi-millionaire founder and chief executive was sensationally accused of sexual harassment and assault
Former employee Tatiana Spottiswoode, pictured, has alleged that Zia Chishti, 50, groomed her when she was 21 and then assaulted her after she was hired in 2016
Mr Chishti allegedly harassed, threatened and sexually assaulted a female staff member
Ms Spottiswoode provided photos showing bruises Mr Chishti had left on her neck
Ms Spottiswoode said she met Mr Chishti – who was listed among the top 50 bachelors in America by People Magazine in 2001 – when she was 12 or 13, and met him again when she was a student at Columbia Law School.
She told the committee: ‘When I was in my senior year of college, in December 2014, Chishti, who was 43 at the time, invited me on a ski trip. I was 21.
‘I initially declined, but he insisted he wanted me to meet his nephew, who also studied philosophy. So I agreed. I later learned that the nephew, who never showed up, didn’t exist.’
‘The trip was designed to groom me. Chishti told me he had feelings and showed me an extravagant lifestyle.’
Ms Spottiswoode said she rejected him, but eventually dated him about five times over ten weeks before eventually breaking off the relationship.
Mr Cameron, 55, joined Afiniti as the chairman of its advisory board in 2019, two years after the incident is alleged to have taken place
She continued: ‘Months later, Chishti encouraged me to join his company. He presented a rosy picture of a great career opportunity. I believed him. Chishti told me he did not expect a sexual relationship.’
When Ms Spottiswoode joined his company in 2016, she said she signed a contract that included an arbitration agreement with a ‘strong confidentiality clause’.
She went on to describe a toxic work environment, saying he ‘ocellated between pressurising me for sex and punishing me’.
‘During a work meeting in Dubai, he put his hands under my pants and grabbed my but in front of co-workers,’ she said.
Ms Spottiswoode went on to describe another work trip to Brazil.
‘I avoided him as much as I could, but was under increasing pressure from him. I began to worry that, in addition to wanting sex, Chishti wanted to hurt me and punish me for rejecting him,’ she said.
‘I felt completely trapped and hopeless. I was 23 and very far from home.
‘I didn’t want to lose my job, I didn’t want him to get any angrier, I did not feel that anyone would protect me and I was too tired to argue with him anymore. I went to his room where he beat me while having sex with me.
‘I told him he was hurting me, he said, ”Good”. He told me he should’ve had sex with me when we first met, when I was 13-years-old.
‘I hid in my hotel room until my flight the next day. My body was covered with scratches, cuts, and contusions.
‘I had bruises around my neck that looked like I had been strangled, a large bump on my head, and a black eye. A nurse at the hospital said I had the symptoms of a concussion.’
In a statement, Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: ‘Mr Cameron understands that the allegations are disputed, but disagrees with the approach being taken by the company in responding to the matter.
‘He made this view clear to Mr Chishti yesterday.
‘Mr Cameron has therefore resigned as chairman of the company’s advisory board with immediate effect.
‘He does so with regret, given the success and promise of this exciting company, and the commitment, dedication and loyalty of the many hard-working employees with whom he has enjoyed working.’
Mr Cameron’s post-political career after leaving Downing Street in 2016 has been tarnished by the Greensill affair.
Multiple inquiries were launched after he was widely criticised for privately lobbying ministers in an attempt to secure access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme for the firm, which collapsed in March.
Afiniti provides artificial intelligence software for managing call centres.
Mr Chishti also developed Invisalign, a brand of orthodontic braces. Earlier this year Mr Cameron escaped punishment despite privately lobbying ministers in efforts to secure access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme for Greensill Capital before its collapse.
Afiniti said: ‘We take any allegations of this nature extremely seriously.
‘Afiniti has investigated Ms Spottiswoode’s claims with independent counsel and concluded that the arbitral decision she references was erroneous.
‘Afiniti’s CEO and chair Zia Chishti strongly disputes all accusations against him.’