Waitresses groped at men-only charity dinner


The organisers of a prestigious men-only charity dinner have said they are "appalled" by allegations of sexual harassment at the event.

Two undercover Financial Times journalists reported that waitresses were groped and propositioned by guests at the Presidents Club annual fundraiser at London's Dorchester Hotel.

Waitresses at a prestigious charity dinner at London's Dorchester Hotel were allegedly subjected to sexual harassment from guests (Hannah McKay/PA)
Waitresses at The Dorchester were allegedly subjected to sexual harassment by guests (Hannah McKay/PA)

Hostesses were allegedly told to wear black underwear and "sexy" black shoes for their shift.

Organisers have vowed to investigate claims of "bad behaviour", which included guests groping women, inviting them up to bedrooms and one diner indecently exposing himself.

A spokesman said: "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."

The event has raised £20 million for children's charities over 32 years, including Great Ormond Street Hospital and Evelina Children's Hospital.

Items at Thursday's auction reportedly included lunch with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a trip to the Windmill strip club in Soho and plastic surgery "to spice up your wife".

Leading figures in business, politics and finance attended the event hosted by comedian and children's author David Walliams, who is not the subject of any allegations.

Former Tory minister and Department for Education board member David Meller is among the trustees.

Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, has called for Mr Meller to resign.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "This charity event was attended in a personal capacity.

"It was not official departmental business and as such we are unable to comment further."

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi told ITV News that he also attended and said: "I did attend and left early. David Walliams was hosting. I didn't stay long enough to really comment on the occasion."

The allegations have sparked outrage among politicians on twitter, with Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson describing them as "stomach-churning".

Simply stomach-churning: sinister directions dictating what underwear women should wear; blurb suggesting cosmetic surgery would "add spice to your wife"; business demanding a woman rip off her knickers; multiple reports of sexual assault.

-- Jo Swinson (@joswinson) January 23, 2018

The Dorchester Hotel said an investigation has been launched.

A spokeswoman said: "We are deeply concerned regarding the allegations levelled at the organisers of a private event held at the hotel.

"We were not aware of any claims during or immediately following the charitable event.

"We have zero tolerance of any form of harassment to our guests, employees and suppliers.

"We are in discussions with the organisers and an investigation is under way."

Artista agency, which recruited the hostesses, told the Financial Times: "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."