You will be surprised to learn that not very much happened at all at the Presidents Club evenings, which is why the Financial Times journalist who broke the original story felt compelled to ‘sex it up’ in order for the paper to make a feature, and for BBC2’s Newsnight programme to give it journalistic legs for three nights running.
I have been at the President’s Club function probably seven to ten times in the past and yes, there were hostesses at each table, but before anyone gets too excited, they were less like Pamela Anderson look-a-likes with curvaceous chest ornaments and more like a ‘Brenda from reception’.
Despite what you may have read, the dress code was hardly a slinky, provocative outfit, but more a high neckline and low hem style.
Yes – there was a selection of very tempting alcoholic drinks conveniently placed in the centre of each table, but this was designed for wealthy patrons to loosen their wallets rather than anything else.
And by golly it worked a treat: since the last event, this year, over £4 million was raised. That represents a total tally of over £20 million which has been passed to an assortment of charitable causes over its 30 year history.
The rush to judgment by the normally sane, august, Great Ormond Street Hospital was breathtaking, when they not only made public their intentions to refuse the money from this year’s event, but also to give back the £500,000 already received by them from past events without even calling for a cursory enquiry!
They obviously believe everything they read in the newspapers, more fool them!
I will leave them to explain what they say to a mother of a very sick child, when treatment is withdrawn for lack of funding.
This was an unashamed men only event where through legitimate means peer pressure was brought to bear on the gathered throng to cough up a great deal of money and certainly, far more than perhaps they would, under other circumstances.
Contrary to the media hype, Presidents Club was not a Roman orgy.
It is interesting to note that of the 4,000 or so hostesses employed over the years, not one has ever complained to the Police about sexual harassment and what’s more, 84% of the them returned year on year.
William Shakespeare would describe it as ‘much ado about nothing’ and now that the event has been disbanded, the real tragedy is that worthy charities will not get any future monies they desperately need and the real victims of sexual harassment will no doubt consider the hoo-ha associated with this debacle as trivialising this important and intolerable subject of criminality.
The Financial Times certainly has blood on their hands and what a price some victims have had to pay for momentary headlines.
Trevor Abrahmsohn is CEO and Founder of Glentree International, specialising in the luxury property markets in North London including some of the most expensive real estate in the world.