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Men-only charity club closes after scandal over sexual harassment

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Linh Nguyen

Linh Nguyen

"Hi Jack, that's a good point you've r..."
Jack Procter-Blain

Jack Procter-Blain

""Nadhim Zahawi – A British Conserva..."

The Presidents Club Charitable Trust disbanded on January 24 after revelations about a men-only fundraising dinner where hired hostesses were allegedly groped and harassed. The gala, held in London last week, was reported by undercover reporter Madison Marriage for the Financial Times. Attendees of the charity come from the higher echelons of society, including politicians, billionaires and celebrities. 

The Financial Times’  report depicted sordid behavior by men dressed in black tie while women – some of whom are students – “were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels”. Women were also subjected to groping and repeated requests to join diners in their bedrooms. They were asked to sign a five-page non-disclosure agreement before the event.

“It was unclear why men, seated at their tables with hostesses standing close by, felt the need to hold the hands of the women, but numerous hostesses discussed instances of it through the night. For some, this was a prelude to pulling the women into their laps,” Marriage reported, who herself was groped repeatedly.

The official goal of the gathering is to raise money for upstanding causes including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the renowned children’s hospital in London. Auction prizes included lunch with the the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

What is the Presidents Club?

  • The Presidents Club Charitable Trust is a long-running charity known for its annual dinner held at London’s Dorchester Hotel.
  • Joint chairmen in 2018 were property developer Bruce Ritchie and businessman and Department for Education director David Meller.
  • Over more than 30 years, it has raised $20 million for children’s charities, including Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Who attended?

The Guardian newspaper released the full list of men who had allocated seats, though it’s unclear who attended the event. The list includes:

  • Sir Philip Green – A retail billionaire who has been involved in a number of controversies throughout his professional career, including tax avoidance and worker’s rights.
  • Peter Jones CBE – A British entrepreneur and host of the popular UK reality TV series, Dragons’ Den.
  • Gino D’Acampo – A celebrity TV chef and media personality in the UK.

Among the confirmed attendees are:

  • Nadhim Zahawi – A British Conservative MP and the UK’s newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary for education. Zahawi has now been reprimanded for attending the gala, though he said he left before the hostesses were announced. UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who is currently at Davos, said she was “appalled” by the allegations but backed Zahawi. “I understand Zahawi left early from that particular event,” she said.
  • Tim Steiner – The chief executive and co-founder of British online supermarket Ocado.
  • Makram Azar – The vice-chair of investment banking at Barclays.

David Walliams, the British comedian and talent-show judge, has entertained at the dinner for the past three years. Walliams tweeted that he was there in a “professional capacity” and that he did not witness the behavior stated in the report.

Reactions

  • Great Ormond Street Hospital and Evelina London Children’s Hospital have said they will return the donations following the report.
  • The Royal Academy of Music said it will refund a £10,000 donation, citing the “deeply disturbing allegations”.
  • Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, told the BBC: “Dragging progress for women’s rights back 50 years in the name of charity is deplorable.”
  • Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, tweeted: “This is brave reporting from the FT, exposing behaviour that is outrageous and unacceptable.”
  • The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, described it as “appalling” and that the resignation of the Club’s chairman, David Meller, was “right”.

 


Started by

United Kingdom
Linh is a staff journalist at WikiTribune with a background in the humanities. She covers the Middle East, Asia, conflict and technology. Though based in London, she has freelanced across Asia, the UK and U.S.

History for stories "Men-only charity club closes after scandal over sexual harassment"

Select two items to compare revisions

26 January 2018

12:25:49, 26 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → accepted edits)
10:02:08, 26 Jan 2018 . .‎ Jack Procter-Blain (Updated → edits)

25 January 2018

14:45:18, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → tweak)
14:43:45, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → tweak)
14:38:03, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → update)
14:35:22, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → updated category)
14:30:42, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → removing space)
14:28:59, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → Madison one n)
14:27:56, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → tweaks)
14:24:48, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → small copy edits)
14:16:18, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → update)
13:13:10, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → update)
13:08:47, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → update)
12:37:56, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → links)
12:34:28, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → headline)
12:32:30, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → small copy fixes eg Ormond)
12:16:45, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → update)
11:48:40, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → title)
11:36:42, 25 Jan 2018 . .‎ Linh Nguyen (Updated → update)

Talk for Story "Men-only charity club closes after scandal over sexual harassment"

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  1. Rewrite

    “Nadhim Zahawi – A British Conservative MP and the UK’s newly appointed education minister”

    For clarity, Zahawi’s role is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education. “Education minister” is appropriate as shorthand but we could qualify as ‘a newly appointed education minister’ (i.e. one of many, including juniors and undersecretaries).

    “The education minister” risks confusion with Damian Hinds, the chief minister/Secretary of State for Education.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Jack, that’s a good point you’ve raised up. I’ve tweaked it to clarified his position and accepted your edits. Thank you.

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