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  1. ITV Report

Top charity event closes amid sexual harassment allegations: What you need to know

A charity organisation that has raised more than £20 million in 30 years has said it will no longer host fundraising events following allegations of sexual harassment at an all-male dinner.

Female "hostesses" were allegedly groped, harassed and propositioned by the male attendees of the Presidents Club charity dinner at London's Dorchester Hotel.

Great Ormond Street is among several hospitals who said they would be returning all previous donations from the Presidents Club.

Here's what you need to know:

  • What are the allegations?

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The claims emerged following an undercover investigation by reporters from the Financial Times last week.

The FT sent two undercover reporters to work as hostesses at last week's event, gaining access to the dining hall and surrounding bars.

During the six-hour event the reporters claimed hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments by guests and requests to join diners in bedrooms.

Some were also accused of putting their hands up skirts and exposing themselves to workers.

All the female staff were allegedly ordered to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels.

One man is alleged to have told one worker: "I want you to down that glass, rip off your knickers and dance on that table".

Some of the hostesses - which included children - were reportedly harassed again at an after-party.

  • Who was attending the event?
A number of high-profile events were on the guest list. Credit: PA

High-profile figures from the worlds of politics and business were on the seating plan for the five-star event.

A guest list featured well-known billionaires, celebrities and political figures.

It is unclear if any of the men on the list attended and there is still no evidence they engaged in the alleged activities.

David Walliams, the comedian and Britain's Got Talent judge who hosted the event, said he had not witnessed any of the alleged behaviour.

On Wednesday he tweeted he had been there in a "strictly professional capacity" and was "absolutely appalled" by the reports.

Conservative politician Nadhim Zahawi, the children and families minister, confirmed to ITV News he had attended but left after a short while.

He later said on Twitter: "I do unequivocally condemn this behaviour. The report is truly shocking. I will never attend a men only function ever."

  • What has the reaction been?

The FT's findings have been met with outrage.

Great Ormond Street and Evelina London Children’s Hospital said they would be returning previous donations from the Presidents Club.

David Meller, a non-executive director at the Department of Education, has since quit his government role in organising the charity dinner.

Downing Street said Mr Meller had been "asked to step down".

Labour MP Jess Phillips led condemnation of the event in the House of Commons.

She said women were treated as "bait" and described the night a "horrendous example of rich men acting with disgusting entitlement".

British businesswoman Nicola Horlick said the allegations were "unbelievable".

"These are some of Britain's top business people and I can't understand how they can think it's appropriate," she told ITV News.

"And the fact it was also a charity dinner - raising money for some of our major hospitals - it's just unbelievable."

Tory MP Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, suggested the equality law should be tightened in response.

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"British business needs to take a long hard look at itself," she said.

"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?"

  • How does the event raise money?
Sit-downs with Mark Carney and Boris Johnson were on offer. Credit: PA

The Presidents Club Charity Dinner last week raised more than £2 million, with items including lunch with the foreign secretary.

Organisers described the alleged behaviour as "unacceptable".

A statement read: "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 Presidents Club later announced: "The trustees have decided that the Presidents Club will not host any further fundraising events.

"Remaining funds will be distributed in an efficient manner to children's charities and it will then be closed."