FT journalist groped by Britain’s rich and famous at all-men fundraising dinner


A woman journalist has exposed the rampant immorality and acts of sexual harassment by Britain’s rich and famous at a recently-held all-men charity dinner to raise funds for underprivileged children.

Photo: Screenshot from BBC Newsnight’s video

Maddison Marriage, the journalist working with London’s Financial Times, was the undercover reporter at the black-tie event, attended by 360 leading figures from business, politics and finance. The event, billed as Presidents Club charity dinner in London’s Dorchester Hotel on Thursday night, also allegedly included auction lots involving a free lapdance at a Soho club and plastic surgery that could be used to “add spice to your wife.”

In her expose, Marriage said that she had applied to be one of the hostesses for the event and even succeeded. The reporter claimed that she too groped on many occasions.

“I was groped several times. And I know there are numerous other hostesses who said the same things happened to them. Hands up skirts, hands on bums, but also hands on hips , hands on stomachs, arms going around your waists unexpectedly. This isn’t the kind of, I suppose, high-level groping, but one of the strangest things is that you could be talking to a person and he will start holding your hand,” She told BBC Newsnight programme.

The hostesses, who were expected to be paid little over 200 pound for the evening’s job, were told to wear “black sexy shoes” and black underwear. The FT report said, “Groping and similar abuse was seen across many of the tables in the room. Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.”

The event was hosted by comedian and children books’ author, David Wlliams with the event starting with an announcement, ‘Welcome to the most un-PC event of the year.’ However, it was reported that Williams did not say these words.

The FT report said that among those who were due to attend the event included ‘well-known British business figures such as Philip Green of Arcadia Group, Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones, and Ocado boss Tim Steiner. Financiers on the seating plan included Henry Gabay, founder of hedge fund Duet Group, and Makram Azar, the head of Barclays’ investment bank’s Middle East business. From the world of politics were Nadhim Zahawi, newly appointed undersecretary of state for children and families, and Jonathan Mendelsohn, a Labour peer and party fundraiser.’

One of the guests at the event was businessman David Meller, who was recently honoured by the Queen with ‘Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ (OBE) award. Ironically, Meller is also a director of Britain’s Department of Education.

Hostesses who seemed unenthusiastic were prodded by “an enforcement team” to interact with the guests, the report added.

“Outside the women’s toilets,” the FT report said, “a monitoring system was in place: women who spent too long were called out and led back to the ballroom.”

One unnamed “society figure” grabbed a hostess “by the waist, pulled her in against his stomach and declared: ‘I want you to down that glass, rip off your knickers and dance on that table.'”

The expose by FT journalist has caused a huge political earthquake in Britain. Here are some of the political reactions as reported by The Guardian.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the home affairs select committee

“The Presidents Club charity dinner – a front for groping, harassment and appalling sexism by rich men. Is this what these men demand in order to donate to charitable causes? Utterly appalling and shameful.”

Maria Miller, chair of the parliamentary committee on women and equalities

“British business need to take a long hard look at itself. 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?”

Melanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation

“The behaviour reported to have taken place at the President’s Club charity dinner is shocking and totally unacceptable.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general, Confederation of British Industry

“If even half of what’s been written about this event is true, it is deplorable and confirms how far we have still to go to stamp out sexual harassment. We want all women to feel confident and respected in every walk of life. We can and must do better than this.”

Nicola Horlick, City fund manager

“These are some of Britain’s top businesspeople and I can’t understand how they can think it is appropriate … 120 girls were there … and some of them seem to have been very badly treated and, actually, molested, and that is a criminal offence. These people have to be held to account.”

Anne Milton, education minister:

“I thought things had changed and it is absolutely clear that it hasn’t changed. I think there is an association between rich, wealthy people and this sort of behaviour. We have to send a clear message that this is unacceptable.”

Jess Phillips, Labour MP

“What happened is that women were bought as bait for men who were rich men, not a mile from where we stand, as if that is an acceptable behaviour – it is totally unacceptable.”


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