Property executives who attended the men-only Presidents Club gala have defended the sleazy event, describing it as no worse than a rugby club dinner.
Two industry figures, who joined 300 guests at the fundraiser in Mayfair’s Dorchester hotel, hit back against the widespread criticism of the event, where hostesses were reportedly flashed and groped.
One man who works in property told the Financial Times: “They are not underage girls, they are all over 18, they know what they are doing.
“They all know it’s a bit racy. There is free champagne, they can have a drink, they have fun. Do things happen after? God knows. They can always complain to the police if so.”
Another attendee described the event as being like a boys’ night out or a rugby club dinner during which some, but not all, men may have misbehaved.
Out of the 21 tables at the black-tie gala, 10 were sponsored by property companies.
It has been claimed that prostitutes were at the event, where billionaires bid up to £400,000 for lots including a night at a strip club, tea with Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and lunch with Boris Johnson.
Neal Hudson, an experienced data analyst in the property industry, told the FT: “This is not at all appropriate. The industry is living in the past and needs to bring its attitudes up to date. From talking to women in the industry there is definitely an awful lot of disgraceful behaviour going on.”
The row has resulted in one of the organisers quitting a government job, questions in Parliament, several charities handing back donations and the Presidents Club announcing that it would permanently close.