The Presidents Club bash is far from the only example of "a good cause" being used to justify bad behaviour. It's time for a changeby Penny CS Andrews / January 24, 2018 / Leave a comment
The Financial Times this week exposed sexual harassment at the President’s Club Charity Dinner, an annual men’s only blacktie event that has taken place in London for 33 years. Hosted by comedian and writer David Walliams, attendees at this year’s event included Conservative minister for children and families Nadhim Zadhawi and Department of Education board member David Meller (who has since quit).
According to the FT, female hostesses specially hired for the event were made to wear revealing black dresses, matching “sexy” underwear and high heels, were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements they were not given time to read, and were subjected to inappropriate comments and multiple instances of sexual assault. Items auctioned on the night included breast enhancement to “spice up your wife” and naming rights for a children’s book by Walliams.
Women across the media, finance and politics reacted with horror, online and later at Prime Minister’s Questions. Labour’s Jess Philips told the house that “Women were bought as bait for . . . rich men less than a mile from where we stand. That is unacceptable behaviour.” Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson has apparently already written a letter to the Charities Commission.
While critics are right to condemn the event, there is a bigger question here worth addressing which Swinson’s letter hints at. The Presidents Club advertised the event as a fundraiser for Great Ormond Street Hospital, and it raised over £2m for the charity, who say they will now be investigating the allegations.