A secretive, men-only charity event in London has been permanently shut down after a Financial Times report revealed extensive sexual misconduct by its guests. Those invited to the dinner include important figureheads in British business, politics, and finance.
The affair has been hosted by the Presidents Club Charitable Trust for the past 33 years, and has raised $28 million in total. According to the Times, the event has been a pillar of London’s social calendar for years, but whatever happens during the course of the night remains largely unreported, which is even more peculiar given how much money is at stake.
Two Times reporters went undercover to suss out the situation as two of the event's 130 hostesses. What they witnessed was horrible: women were groped, propositioned, and harassed by the men. Given the high-profile guest list, the backlash from the event has been enormous.
The Times exposé said hostesses were told to wear, “skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels.” Instructions for the uniform became even more specific: “All hostesses should bring ‘BLACK sexy shoes,’ black underwear, and do their hair and make-up as they would to go to a ‘smart sexy place.’” When hired, the women were told some of the men at the event could be “annoying,” but that was certainly a distortion of the reality. The Times reporter heard men make racy comments, and saw hostesses get their bodies touched and grabbed. At least one guest exposed himself to one woman.
The Presidents Club has since told the Times the event would be shut down, and that any donations would go to charity. Facing a wave of embarrassment, David Meller, the event’s chairman, has stepped down from the board of Britain’s Department of Education, and two hospitals will return the received donations.
“The organizers are appalled by the allegations of bad behavior at the event asserted by the Financial Times reporters. Such behavior is totally unacceptable. The allegations will be investigated fully and promptly and appropriate action taken,” the organization told the Times.