Opposition MPs have called for the resignation of children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi over his attendance at a men-only charity event where waitresses were allegedly groped by guests.
Tory MP Mr Zahawi was among businessmen, celebrities and politicians who attended the Presidents Club fundraiser, dubbed ‘the most un-PC event of the year’, where an undercover investigation found waitresses were subjected to sexual harassment by guests.
The event has sparked outrage and an investigation has been launched into the allegations.
Businessman David Mellor has already quit as a Department for Education director after it emerged he was involved in organising the men-only event, and host David Walliams has said he is “appalled” by the allegations.
I do unequivocally condemn this behaviour. The report is truly shocking. I will never attend a men only function ever.
— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) January 24, 2018
Mr Zahawi had remained tight-lipped about his presence at the dinner, but in response to questions Twitter, on Wednesday tweeted: “I do unequivocally condemn this behaviour. The report is truly shocking. I will never attend a men only function ever.”
Education minister Anne Milton told MPs that Mr Zahawi had attended but “found the event extremely uncomfortable” and left early.
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Asked whether the Prime Minister was concerned about Mr Zahawi’s attendance at the event, a senior Number 10 source said: “He has himself said he was uncomfortable at it, leaving at the point at which the hostesses were introduced by the host.”
The source added: “I think he himself probably regrets the decision to go.”
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner called for an investigation into reports that Mr Zahawi had attended.
Welcoming David Mellor’s resignation, she said: “Will the Secretary of State also investigate the attendance of the minister for children?
“His department is responsible for safeguarding millions of children and caring for thousands of victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and for tackling sexual harassment and violence in our schools, for colleges, for universities and for educating another generation of both girls and boys.
“Isn’t it time that they started leading by example?”
Labour’s Sarah Jones said Mr Zahawi should resign if he did not report his concerns about the event and had attended it previously.
She said: “I think if it transpires that the minister did not report his concerns and that he was there on previous occasions it is absolutely surely obvious that he needs to resign – our women are too important, our young girls are too important to get this kind of message from our leaders and to think that it’s acceptable.”