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The Presidents Club Charitable Trust is a British charity[1][2] known for an annual charity dinner held from 1985 to 2018. The dinner, held usually at The Dorchester hotel in London, was for male guests only and was considered a "mainstay of London’s social calendar".[3] After the Financial Times reported[3] on sexual misconduct at the 2018 dinner, the charity announced its intent to disband.[4]

Presidents Club Charitable Trust
Formation1985
Extinction24 January 2018; 21 months ago (2018-01-24)
TypeCharity
PurposeHosting an annual charity dinner
Joint chair
Bruce Ritchie
Joint chair
David Meller
Websitethepresidentsclubcharity.co.uk

The charitable trust's joint chairmen as of 2018 were the property developer Bruce Ritchie and the businessman and Department for Education director David Meller.[3][5]

Charity dinnersEdit

The 360 guests at the annual dinners – all men – included leading figures in business, entertainment and politics.[6] They would pay for a dinner and participate in auctions of such prizes as meetings with influential people. The proceeds would go to charities, including children's charities, and other organisations, for example the British Olympic Association and Disability Rights International.[3][7]

In 2008, guests at the dinner organised by Harvey Goldsmith included Justin King, Harold Tillman and Robert Tchenguiz.[8]

In 2010, guests at the dinner organised by Peter Shalson and sponsored by HSBC included Len Blavatnik, Mike Sherwood, Charles Dunstone, Sir Martin Sorrell, Richard Desmond, Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore, Nick Candy, David Reuben, Gerald Ronson, Howard Shore, Harvey Goldsmith, Jarvis Astaire, Jimmy Lahoud, Dan Wagner, and Jimmy Tarbuck.[9]

2018 sexual harassment controversyEdit

In January 2018, the Financial Times sent two undercover reporters to join the 130 scantily clad "hostesses" specially hired for the event by the Artista agency. It reported that several of the guests had sexually harassed or assaulted the hostesses in the course of the evening.[3] The lead reporter, Madison Marriage, wrote that the hostesses were subject to groping, lewd comments, requests to join guests in their bedrooms, questions whether they were prostitutes, and that one attendee exposed his penis to a hostess.[3] Marriage said that she herself had been groped several times.[10] The event's brochure included a full-page warning that harassment would not be tolerated, and that the Presidents Club would not be liable for it if it did happen.[3]

The report caused a scandal in the United Kingdom, and commentators connected the event to the #MeToo movement, the Harvey Weinstein scandal and resulting allegations indicating frequent sexual abuse of women. Within a day, the Presidents Club announced that it would disband.[11] Some MPs called for the resignation of children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi, who had been among the guests,[12] as well as for a police investigation of the event.[13] Presidents Club co-chairman David Meller resigned from his Department of Education directorship.[14] Jonathan Mendelsohn, another of the guests, was removed from the Labour frontbench in the House of Lords.[15] Several bookshops stopped the sale of books by the comedian David Walliams, who had hosted the event and put up the right to name a character in his next book as a prize.[16] All of these men said to the media that they had neither participated in nor witnessed any misconduct.

The guest list of the 2018 dinner included the following other notable men (although they did not necessarily attend):[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Charity registration number 1017310 – PRESIDENTS CLUB CHARITABLE TRUST". charitycommission.gov.uk. Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Official website – The Presidents Club". thepresidentsclubcharity.co.uk. The Presidents Club Charitable Trust. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Marriage, Madison (23 January 2018). "Men Only: Inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses are put on show". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ Booth, William; Barbash, Fred (24 January 2018). "How an undercover female reporter exposed sexual misconduct at a London charity bash". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Scandal-hit dinner organiser quits post". BBC News. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ Staff writer (24 January 2018). "All the Presidents men: guest list for the all-male charity gala". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  7. ^ "The Presidents Club Charitable Trust Trustees' Annual Report for the year ended 31 October 2016" (PDF). Charity Commission. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  8. ^ Goodley, Simon (17 January 2008). "Charity begins away from the wife". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  9. ^ "All the President's men and their fetching hostesses". The Independent. 24 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  10. ^ Kieran, Corcoran (24 January 2018). "'An incessant stream of harassment': Undercover FT reporter describes high-powered charity dinner where she was groped 'several times'". Business Insider. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  11. ^ Batchelor, Tom (24 January 2018). "Presidents Club to close after shocking details of sexist behaviour emerge". The Independent. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  12. ^ Mellor, Joe (24 January 2018). "PM under pressure to sack Families minister who attended seedy all-male gala". The London Economic. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  13. ^ Davies, Rob (25 January 2018). "MPs call for police to investigate Presidents Club scandal". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  14. ^ Davies, Rob; Weaver, Matthew; Stewart, Heather (24 January 2018). "Presidents Club to close down after claims of harassment at 'hostess' gala". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  15. ^ Greenfield, Patrick (25 January 2018). "Presidents Club furore claims Labour scalp as party ejects peer". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  16. ^ Cain, Sian (26 January 2018). "David Walliams withdraws Presidents Club prize as shops pull his books". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Presidents Club: who was invited to the all-male charity gala?". The Guardian. 25 January 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2018.

External linksEdit