[WATCH] UK Presidents Club hit with scandal as charity dinner organiser resigns

The man who helped organise a men-only charity dinner, resigned over allegations that hostesses at the event were allegedly groped

David Meller resigns from Department for Education board amid harassment claims.

The man who helped organise a men-only charity dinner, resigned over allegations that hostesses at the event were allegedly groped.

The alleged behaviour by attendees at the President Club’s men-only annual charity dinner has prompted widespread disgust from MPs of all parties.

In response to an urgent question in the Commons about the event, the education minister, Anne Milton, said businessman David Meller, a joint chair of the club, would be standing down as both a non-executive director of the department and the chairman of the government’s apprenticeship delivery board.

David Miller has resigned
David Miller has resigned

Milton said: “I understand from reports that at this event there were allegations of inappropriate and lewd behaviour. It is quite extraordinary to me that in the 21st century allegations of this kind are still emerging.

“Women have the right to feel safe wherever they work, and allegations of this type of behaviour are completely unacceptable.”

Charities are now refusing donations from the Presidents Club Charity Dinner, at London's Dorchester Hotel.

A spokeswoman for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity 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. Due to the wholly unacceptable nature of the event we are returning previous donations and will no longer accept gifts from the Presidents Club Charitable Trust.”

Event compere comedian David Walliams said he was "appalled" by the claims but had not witnessed anything.

The Presidents Club said it would investigate, while the Dorchester Hotel said it was "deeply concerned" and was also looking into the claims.

Theresa May backed Meller’s resignation, Downing Street said. “Yes, he has been asked to step down and the prime minister thinks that is the right decision,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.

“The PM was uncomfortable at the reports she read this morning. I say reports because clearly this is an event to which she would not be invited.”

The only women at the event, attended by senior figures in business and finance, were hired hostesses.

A spokesman for the Artista agency, which recruited the hostesses, said: "I was not aware of any claims of sexual harassment but the kind of behaviour alleged is completely unacceptable.

"I am checking with the staff and any complaints will be dealt with promptly and fairly."

New Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi also attended the event
New Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi also attended the event

New Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi also attended in a personal capacity.

A Downing Street spokesman said Zahawi had "attended briefly and felt uncomfortable at what had begun to happen."

Zahawi told the BBC's Newsnight: "I didn't stay long enough to really comment on the occasion."

He later tweeted: "I do unequivocally condemn this behaviour. The report is truly shocking. I will never attend a men only function ever.

Tehre have since been reports for Zahawi to resign for not reporting what had happened at the dinner.

Madison Marriage, the Financial Times reporter who worked at the event, told BBC Newsnight : she was groped "several times" and "numerous other hostesses" said the same thing happened to them.

"It's a hands up skirts, hands on bums but also hands on hips, hands on stomachs, arms going round your waist unexpectedly," she said.

"This isn't, I suppose, a high-level groping, but one of the strangest things was you could be talking to a man and he'd suddenly start holding your hand."

Marriage said that the 130 hostesses were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels and also that they could drink alcohol while working.

She also said the hostesses were asked to sign a five-page non-disclosure agreement about the event upon arrival to the hotel, and that there were other women there "who had absolutely no idea that was the kind of event it would be".

"I had one woman tell me that she was shocked," she said. "She was asked if she was a prostitute on the night."

In a statement, the Presidents Club said: "The organisers are appalled by the allegations of bad behaviour at the event asserted by the Financial Times reporters. Such behaviour is totally unacceptable.

"The allegations will be investigated fully and promptly and appropriate action taken."

Jess Phillips MP, who chairs the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party, told the BBC: "I am tired of having to continually say it's 2018 and it's totally unacceptable that women should be hired in as a herd to entertain a group of entitled rich men, because it's not what we're teaching our kids is an acceptable thing."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also tweeted: "This is brave reporting from the FT, exposing behaviour that is outrageous and unacceptable."