Hospital U-turn over returning Presidents Club money following groping scandal

Great Ormond Street Hospital is to do a U-turn and keep donations raised by a controversial black-tie event mired in claims that female hostesses were groped.

The London children's unit said it has made the decision to keep the money, reportedly some £530,000, raised by the Presidents Club for it over a number of years.

It had originally pledged to return the money following revelation about behaviour at January's event, uncovered by the Financial Times.

But a hospital spokesman said on Tuesday it had reversed its decision following feedback from supporters and discussions with the Charity Commission.

Presidents Club fundraiser
An undercover probe into January's event at the Dorchester Hotel alleged alleged female staff were subject to sexual harassment and inappropriate advances by guests (Philip Toscano/PA)

He said: "Our thinking is always guided by our aim to maximise the support we give to the hospital and the families it cares for.

"Following feedback from our supporters, guidance from the Charity Commission and taking into account the impending closure of the Presidents Club Charitable Trust, the trustees have decided to retain the funds donated by the trust.

"We would like to thank all of our donors for their support, it is only through their generosity that we can make a difference for seriously ill children cared for at the hospital."

Great Ormond Street follows Guy's and St Thomas' Charity in deciding to keep money raised for it by the event, which featured high-value items and experiences auctioned to raise funds.

Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, the charity for Evelina London Children's Hospital, previously said it would be keeping £365,000 in donations "as we cannot return these in line with our charitable objects".

A number of charities, including Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, have benefited from the £20 million raised by the Presidents Club over more than 30 years.

But the January 18 event at London's upmarket Dorchester Hotel gained notoriety following an undercover investigation by the Financial Times that alleged female staff were subject to sexual harassment and inappropriate advances by guests.

The report sparked a furious backlash and several high-profile charities refused to take any donations from the trust.

The Presidents Club decided to wind up its work in the wake of the scandal.

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