Marks & Spencer chief executive Sir Stuart Rose has come under fire for investing in a business venture of one of M&S’s non-executive directors.

The Association of British Insurers said yesterday that Rose’s decision to invest in a business founded by Martha Lane-Fox raises fresh questions over corporate governance standards in the boardroom. This fresh controversy comes just weeks after the revolt over the promotion of Rose to the dual role of executive chairman.

Shareholders were promised M&S would consider hiring two new, independent, non-executive directors. However, the ABI questioned whether Lane Fox, co-founder of, could now be seen as independent after Rose invested in her Lucky Voice karaoke chain.

ABI director of investment affairs Peter Montagnon told The Times: “This is another example of where the company has deviated from the code and needs to provide an explanation to investors if they wish Ms Lane Fox to remain independent. It is important and raises additional serious issues. The company needs to think about this carefully before the annual meeting in July.”