Newstalk
Newstalk

17.46 24 Jan 2018


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The Presidents Club, the group behind a UK charity fundraiser, will close and not host any further fundraising events following allegations of harassment at a London dinner.

The charity has been rocked by claims its recent fundraiser, held at the Dorchester hotel last Thursday, saw female workers allegedly "groped, sexually harassed and propositioned".

In a statement, the organisation said: "The trustees have decided that the Presidents Club will not host any further fundraising events.

"Remaining funds will be distributed in an efficient manner to children's charities and it will then be closed."

It comes amid the fallout of a story in the Financial Times about undercover reporters' experiences as hostesses at the 'men only' dinner, which is described as a "mainstay of London’s social calendar for 33 years".

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Two children's hospitals in Britain say they are returning money raised at the London event.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has said it will return all previous donations from the Presidents Club.

A spokesperson for GOSH said: "We are shocked to hear of the behaviour reported at the Presidents Club Charitable Trust fundraising dinner. We would never knowingly accept donations raised in this way.

Evelina London Children's Hospital has also said it is returning previous donations from the group, saying "this is not the kind of event we would wish to be associated with".

The Dorchester Hotel insisted it had a zero-tolerance policy to harassment of employees and guests.

It said: "We are unaware of any allegations and should we be contacted we will work with the relevant authorities as necessary."

At the event, more than stg£2m (€2.29m) was raised for charity through auction items such as lunch with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and tea with Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

However, the Bank of England has said it did not approve any prize for the event, suggesting that the prize was instead 're-auctioned' without the bank being consulted:

It has also been announced that David Meller - a joint chair of the Presidents Club, who is also a non-executive director on the UK's Department for Education board - would resign from his public post.

Opposition MPs in the UK also raised questions about the attendance of Conservative minister Nadhim Zahawi at the dinner.

The politician branded reports of behaviour at the event "shocking" and vowed never to attend a men-only function again.


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