Dozens of Britain's most powerful men accused of attending exclusive gala where women were allegedly groped and harassed

 

  • Hostesses at an exclusive men-only black-tie charity dinner at London were allegedly repeatedly sexually harassed by guests.
  • According to an investigation by The FT, the women were groped and propositioned.
  • A seating plan includes numerous high-profile British figures from the world of politics and finance.


A black-tie charity dinner in London attended by high-profile British figures from the worlds of politics, finance, and entertainment is rife with sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour, according to an investigation from The Financial Times.

On January 18, 2018, the Dorchester Hotel played host to the Presidents Club Charity Dinner, an annual male-only event that raises millions of pounds for children's charities. Two reporters for The FT attended the 2018 event undercover, working as hostesses hired by the event to entertain the nearly 400 guests.

They, and hostesses they spoke to, relayed accounts of frequent groping by attendees, an incident of indecent exposure, "lewd comments," and other sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour. "I’ve never done this before, and I’m never doing it again," a 19-year-old hostess told the paper. "It’s f---ing scary."

At the official after-party, an unnamed "society figure" allegedly told a hostess: "You look far too sober ... I want you to down that glass, rip off your knickers and dance on that table."

Business Insider has not independently verified these allegations.

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Reactions to men's-only British gala where women were reportedly harassed
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Reactions to men's-only British gala where women were reportedly harassed
British PM 'uncomfortable' after reading account of exclusive all-male charity fundraiser; story details multiple a… https://t.co/m7Y6Ahfl6F
Let's hope every man who attended this event will think twice before accepting another invitation to a 'men only' e… https://t.co/hqjGi3QFZR
As for the bigger question of what next, some thoughts in this article https://t.co/NzNvfE9oXq And this is why… https://t.co/mid6TzZzax
‘Dance on the table’: Hostesses harassed at men-only charity gala in London, FT says https://t.co/Be7B607Iya https://t.co/4SbghWBslG
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The event was reportedly hosted by the comedian David Walliams, and a seating plan seen by The FT included multiple high-profile figures from finance and politics.

Business Insider has contacted those on the list, and is not republishing their names until they have had time to respond.

'I am not aware of any reports of sexual harassment and with the calibre of guest, I would be astonished'

When contacted for comment, spokesman Craig Breheny sent Business Insider the following statement on behalf of the Presidents Club:

"The Presidents Club recently hosted its annual dinner, raising several million pounds for disadvantaged children. 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."

Events company Artista was responsible for sourcing the hostesses. Founder Caroline Dandridge told The FT: "This is a really important charity fundraising event that has been running for 33 years and raises huge amounts of money for disadvantaged and underprivileged children’s charities. There is a code of conduct that we follow, I am not aware of any reports of sexual harassment and with the calibre of guest, I would be astonished." (A spokesperson declined to comment further to Business Insider.)

Property developer Nick Candy is a former patron of the event, but did not attend in 2018, a spokesperson said.

The event also reportedly featured an auction to raise money for charity, with the lots including an evening at a strip club and plastic surgery — a description for which invited recipients to "add spice to your wife."

Lunches with foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Bank of England governor Mark Carney were also offered, according to the Financial Times' report.

Johnson and Carney did not respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.

Advertising conglomerate WPP sponsors a table at the event on an annual basis, and European COO Andrew Scott reportedly attended in 2018. CEO Martin Sorrell has allegedly attended in previous years.

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is cutting ties with the event in light of The FT's investigation.

"WPP has traditionally sponsored a table at the Presidents Club dinner to support its fundraising for children’s charities. Neither the company nor our attendees were aware of the alleged incidents until informed of them by the Financial Times.

"WPP takes these reports very seriously and, while we will continue to support relevant charities, in light of the allegations we are ending our association with the event," Chris Wade said in a statement.

The Presidents Club Charity Dinner has run for more than 30 years, and The Independent hinted at its tone in an article in 2010:

"The most eye catching part of the event – which is strictly for male diners – was the bevy of hostesses dressed in short black or red dresses, who entered the ballroom after dinner, to the fanfare of Shania Twain's 'Feel Like a Woman'. Each are paid £120 for 'fetching drinks' and 'socialising with' the glitzy guests," an unnamed author wrote.

"''The boys tucked into the girls,' confesses my man on the inside, before adding swiftly: 'after I'd left.'"

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Politicians, lawmakers accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
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Politicians, lawmakers accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct

Several women have come forward accusing President Donald Trump of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump has called the sexual harassment claims 'fake news.'

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused by numerous women of sexual assault, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who claimed he assaulted her when the two were high school students in Maryland.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Bill Clinton faced numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct while he was president of the United States, with accusers including Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of rape, Kathleen Willey who said he groped her and Paula Jones who said he exposed himself to her without consent.

(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Roy Moore faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with underaged girls.

(Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Several women have accused former President George H.W. Bush of groping them during photo ops.

(REUTERS/Donna Carson)

Sen. Al Franken resigned after he was accused of kissing and groping a woman without her consent during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006.

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A woman testified that her extra-martial affair with Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was not always consensual. The accuser claimed Greitens took a nude photo of her to use as blackmail and coerced her into having oral sex.

(St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept./Handout via REUTERS)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was accused in May 2018 of physically abusing four women who he had been romantically involved with, according to The New Yorker.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A former aide of Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., says she was fired after she refused his advances.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, resigned after he was accused of asking former female staffers to be surrogate mothers for his child. 

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., was accused of making unwanted sexual advances to multiple women.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, was accused of using taxpayer money for a sexual harassment settlement with his former communications director, according to Politico. He announced in December that he wouldn't be seeking reelection. 

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been accused of unwanted sexual advances by former staffers.

(SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)

California Assemblymember Matt Dababneh was accused of masturbating in front of a woman in 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times.

(Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

In 1992 multiple women came forward against Senator Brock Adams accusing him of sexually harassing, molesting or assaulting them.

(Photo by Gary Payne/Liaison)

The Congressional Office of Compliance reportedly shelled out $100,000 to settle sexual harassment claims against U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, D-New York.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Congressman Mark Foley, R-Florida, resigned in 2006 amid reports that he sent sexually explicit messages to at least one underage male former page. 

(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., called a young former aide his 'soul mate,' but denied sexually harassing her.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Kentucky, was facing sexual assault accusations and reportedly committed suicide.

(Kentucky Legislative Research Commission via REUTERS)

Former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced in 2017 after pleading guilty to one count of sending obscene messages to a minor, ending an investigation into a "sexting" scandal that played a role in the 2016 US presidential election.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Former U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Oregon, resigned from his position in 2011 after accusations of an 'unwanted sexual encounter' from the 18-year-old daughter of a donor.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain dropped out of the race in December 2011 amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2016 for attempting to skirt banking regulations in order to conceal hush money payments intended to cover up sex abuse allegations stemming from the time he was a high school wrestling coach at a far west suburban Chicago high school decades ago.

(REUTERS/Frank Polich)

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