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Just hours after an undercover FT reporter exposed how female ‘hostesses’ were groped and sexually harassed at a men-only charity fundraiser at The Dorchester hotel in Mayfair last Thursday, the man who helped organise the dinner has quit the Department for Education board.
Following the mass criticism of the event, David Meller has quit his non-executive role of the Presidents Club, which reportedly hired 130 ‘tall, thin and pretty’ women as hostesses at its annual black-tie.
Two undercover reporters, who posed as hostesses for the dinner, have claimed that some women were repeatedly propositioned by the male guests, with one man allegedly exposing himself. One of the reporters said she was groped ‘several times’.
Event compere and comedian David Walliams has said he was “appalled” by the claims but had not witnessed anything.
2) I left immediately after I had finished my presenting on stage at 11.30pm. I did not witness any of the kind of behaviour that allegedly occurred and am absolutely appalled by the reports.
— David Walliams (@davidwalliams) January 24, 2018
A spokesman for the Artista agency, which recruited the hostesses, told BBC: “I was not aware of any claims of sexual harassment but the kind of behaviour alleged is completely unacceptable.I am checking with the staff and any complaints will be dealt with promptly and fairly.”
The chair of the parliamentary committee on women and equalities, Maria Miller MP, has suggested strengthening the Equalities Act following the disturbing details from the event.
Miller told the Guardian: “British business need to take a long hard look at itself. How seriously is business taking equality at work if they are still using men only events for entertainment?
“If business leaders are simply paying lip service to equality issues then perhaps it’s time the government gives the Equality Act some real teeth?”
In a statement, the Dorchester hotel has said that it has a zero-tolerance attitude to harassment and said it would cooperate with the authorities if any complaints were made.