Presidents Club, Charity At Centre Of Lurid Harassment Claims, To Close Down

The Presidents Club, the charitable trust that hosted a men-only charity gala where women hostesses were allegedly sexually harassed, is to close down.

“The Trustees have decided that the Presidents Club will not host any further fundraising events,” a spokesman told Bloomberg News.

“Remaining funds will be distributed in an efficient manner to children’s charities and it will then be closed.”

At the event, two undercover Financial Times reporters posed as hostesses spent six hours at the “most un-PC event of the year” at the Dorchester Hotel last week.

Female staff were instructed to wear skimpy black outfits and matching underwear, the paper reports.

The paper reports that at an after-party, many of the female workers – some of them students – were “groped, sexually harassed and propositioned”, while among the prizes up for grabs at the evening’s fundraising auction were an evening at a Soho strip club and a course of plastic surgery to “add spice to your wife” for the lucky winner.

In the aftermath, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Evelina London Children’s Hospital returned donations from the Presidents Club.

The report also forced David Mellor, chair of Presidents Club, to step down from Department of Education board.

Comedian David Walliams, who hosted the event, says he is “appalled” at the reports.

The Presidents Club states on its website that in its 33-year history it has raised more than £20 million for underprivileged children.

According to the FT, Thursday’s event alone raised more than £2 million.

Sexual harassment and misconduct has been in the limelight since the allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein broke last year, triggering a wave of revelations about powerful men spanning many industries.

Women who work in the hospitality sector told HuffPost UK at the time about the inappropriate incidents they had to endure while working in bars and restaurants, with some customers treating them as if they were “on the menu”.

One of the undercover reporters behind the story, Madison Marriage, appeared on BBC’s Newsnight on Tuesday to detail what she witnessed at the event.

“I was groped several times,” she said. “I know numerous other hostesses said the same thing had happened to them.”

The controversial event prompted an urgent question in the House Commons, tabled by Labour’s Jess Phillips, who said women had been “bought as bait by rich men”.

Conservative Rachel Maclean said businesses who participated in the event needed to be “hit in the pocket to send a clear message that this kind of culture in unacceptable”.