A CONTROVERSIAL ‘men’s only’ party has been blasted as ‘bizarre’ by Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi who attended it.
He also admitted previously attending the party – which has been held for 33 years – before becoming an MP.
The annual black-tie Presidents Club Charity Dinner was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel and included a charity auction to raise money for the likes of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
But undercover reporters from the Financial Times say at an afterparty many hostesses were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned.
They claim the 130 women hired to work at the event – many of them students – were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels. They were paid £150 for the job and were all allegedly hired because they were ‘tall, thin and pretty’.
Mr Zahawi, recently appointed a minister for children and families, was one of the 360 men invited, alongside others from the world of politics, business and finance. Topshop boss Philip Green and Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones were also on the guest list.
Television star and children’s author David Walliams hosted the event.
Mr Zahawi said he left the event early because he felt it was ‘bizarre’ and ‘uncomfortable’.
A Department for Education spokesperson said Mr Zahawi “attended in a personal capacity. It was not official departmental business and as such we are unable to comment further.”
The Financial Times’ undercover reporter Madison Marriage, employed as a hostess, said she was ‘appalled and shocked by what she saw and even cried about her experience the following day.
She told BBC’s Newsnight: “I was groped several times and I know there are numerous other hostesses who said the same thing happened to them.
“It’s a hands up skirts, hands on bums but also hands on hips, hands on stomachs, arms going round your waist unexpectedly.
“This isn’t, I suppose, a high-level groping, but one of the strangest things was you could be talking to a man and he’d suddenly start holding your hand.
“I knew stuff like that might happen on the night but I wasn’t 100 per cent sure. But there are plenty of other women there who had absolutely no idea that was the kind of event it would be and I had one woman tell me that she was shocked. She was asked if she was a prostitute on the night.”
The event’s accompanying brochure is understood to have contained a warning that no attendees or staff should be sexually harassed.
The party included a charity auction with lots including lunch with foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a night at Soho’s Windmill strip club and plastic surgery with the invitation to ‘add spice to your wife.’
During the three decades The Presidents Club has been running, it has raised more than £20 million for charity. Thursday’s event alone is believed to have raised more than £2 million.
But charity St Ormond Street Hospital says it will not be taking the donations and had ‘no involvement’ in organising the event.