One Of The Men Who Organised The Presidents Club Event Has Lost His Government Job
David Meller has stepped down from his job at the Department for Education.
A director of the Department for Education has quit after he helped to organise a men-only charity event that has been hit with allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment against female staff.
David Meller was chairman of the Presidents Club, which organised the event that was exposed by an undercover Financial Times reporter.
Ministers were called to the House of Commons to answer an urgent question on the event, which was attended by wealthy individuals including political donors who have previously given money to the Conservatives and one former Labour financial backer.
Anne Milton, the minister for women, announced that Meller has quit his role as a non-executive director at the Department for Education following the exposé and has also left his role as chair of the apprenticeship delivery board.
During a 40-minute debate in parliament – at which only one male MP spoke – the minister said "words failed me" when she read the initial report and offered to personally investigate the event. The FT alleged that women were repeatedly sexually harassed during the event at the Dorchester, were monitored to ensure they were mingling and not hiding in toilets, and were regularly propositioned for sex.
"I thought things had changed," said Milton. "There is an association between rich, wealthy people and this sort of behaviour. We have to send a clear message that this is unacceptable."
However, Milton defended fellow Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi, who attended the event but insisted he left early: "He is equally appalled... He didn't stay at the event long. I know he found the event extremely uncomfortable."
"This is an event that is attended by men of various party political allegiances who do not know any better. That is the tragedy."
She also insisted that Boris Johnson was unaware that those attending the event had bid in auction for the chance to have lunch with him: "The foreign secretary knew nothing of his inclusion in any auction and in no way endorsed the event."
Tory MP Vicky Ford also criticised the women who hired the hostesses, who she said were "groomed and pimped".
Milton agreed: "It is really shocking that it is probably other women who are encouraging other women into these sort of jobs."