Comedian and children’s author David Walliams has been blasted for hosting a men-only charity dinner billed as ‘the most un-PC event of the year’ where it was alleged that waitresses were sexually harassed.
The backlash against those who attended the event has intensified following allegations that hostesses were “flashed and groped” by guests, which was held at the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair and hosted by the Presidents Club.
Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi was among businessmen, celebrities and politicians who attended the fundraiser, where an undercover investigation by the Financial Times found waitresses were subjected to sexual harassment by guests.
Opposition MPs have called for the resignation of Zahawi, who is a children and families minister, over his attendance at the men-only charity event.
Organisers of the event initially said they were “appalled” by the allegations, which they said would be investigated “fully and promptly”.
Trustees of the Presidents Club later confirmed on Wednesday evening that it will distribute remaining funds to children’s charities and will not host any further fundraisers.
Great Ormond Street Hospital has also reportedly said it will return all donations from the event.
I tell you what I'll name the next character in your CHILDRENS book David Walliams, "Micky the Misogyinist", "Barry Banter" "Larry Ladz". pic.twitter.com/CbMs36ceWY
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) January 23, 2018
Walliams broke his silence on Wednesday, tweeting that he agreed to host the event as it is one of the biggest charity fundraising events of the year.
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He wrote: “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.”
1) Last Thursday night I hosted the Presidents Club annual charity fundraiser. I agreed to host as it is one of the biggest charity fund raising events of the year. I was there in a strictly professional capacity and not as a guest.
— David Walliams (@davidwalliams) January 24, 2018
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
Walliams had found himself under fire for hosting the event.
Referring to one of the lots in charity auction, which was the chance to name one of the characters in his next children’s book, Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted: “I tell you what I’ll name the next character in your CHILDRENS book David Walliams, ‘Micky the Misogyinist (sic)’, ‘Barry Banter’ ‘Larry Ladz’.”
I would think that if you were the best selling children’s author in the UK, you might think twice about auctioning the right to name a character in your next book alongside plastic surgery vouchers to “spice up your wife”, but clearly it doesn’t trouble David Walliams. https://t.co/OB14XGBsja
— Rosie Fletcher (@rosieatlarge) January 23, 2018
Fellow children’s writer Rosie Fletcher added: “I would think that if you were the best selling children’s author in the UK, you might think twice about auctioning the right to name a character in your next book alongside plastic surgery vouchers to ‘spice up your wife’, but clearly it doesn’t trouble David Walliams.”
According to an undercover investigation by the Financial Times, some of the 130 women employed as hostesses to entertain the all-male guest list, which included bankers, entrepreneurs and celebrities, were allegedly groped repeatedly and invited by diners to join them in bedrooms at the hotel, while some reported men putting their hands up their skirts.
It was claimed that they were paid £150 for a six-hour shift, plus £25 for a taxi home, not including any time they spent at an after-party at which one woman was told to “down that glass, rip off your knickers and dance on that table”.
CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “If even half of what’s been written about this event is true, it is deplorable.
“We want our young women to feel confident and respected in all walks of life. We can and must do better than this.”
A spokesman for The President Club said: “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.”
Businessman David Meller quit as Department for Education director after it emerged that he was involved in organising the men-only charity dinner.
Mr Meller, who is a Presidents Club trustee and co-chairman of the annual fundraiser at London’s Dorchester Hotel, stood down as non-executive director of the DfE board following reports of the behaviour at the event.