TRUSTEES of the scandal-hit Presidents Club charity failed to look after the women working at their event, a damning report says.
The Charity Commission said it was “clear” officials thought “insufficiently about the welfare of the women hired to work at their charity’s event while taking careful steps to protect the privacy of the male guests attending the dinner”.
And they blasted charity officials for falling short of what was “expected in the 21st century”.
The hard-hitting report found “significant failures” at the Charitable Trust, and said the trustees were in breach of a number of “key charity law duties”.
It followed a Financial Times investigation in January exposing alleged instances of sexual harassment at the now-closed club’s most recent event at The Dorchester hotel.
The report said: “The trustees failed fully to recognise or address risks to the reputation of the charity - and its purpose of raising money for good causes - arising from holding an all-male event staffed by female-only event staff, who were subject to instructions on their appearance, including that they wear ‘smart, sexy shoes’.”
Hostesses at the dinner, hired by an agency, were also allegedly told to wear black underwear and different coloured nail varnish if they were willing to stay later until 2am for an after party.
Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “The allegations made about the event were entirely at odds with what we would expect from any charity when raising funds for such important causes.
“Our report should serve as a warning to others that raising funds for charity does not absolve trustees of their legal duties or moral responsibilities.”
But the Commission admitted its call for information did not result in anyone coming forward with allegations of harassment or improper behaviour.
A representative for the trustees said: “We are also surprised at both the report’s muted acknowledgement of the fact that not a single complainant has come forward since the FT’s article was published, and at the weight of credibility it gives to the FT’s reporting of the 2018 dinner.
“The core issues investigated by the Charity Commission in coming to its conclusions concern perceptions rather than any proven facts.
"We, as trustees, have never and would never condone the sort of alleged behaviour described in the FT article.”
Leading figures in business, politics and finance attended the event hosted by comedian and children’s author David Walliams, who is not the subject of any allegations.
The three men listed as the club’s trustees on the Charity Commission website are David Meller, Harvey Soning and Bruce Ritchie.
The charity will now be wound up and the remaining funds be given to causes such as Great Ormond Street children’s hospital.