Well-known faces from the property world were among those attending the Presidents Club Charity Dinner at which hostesses were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned according to a Financial Times investigation
According to the report, 151 of 300 guests at the event held at Park Lane’s Dorchester hotel were guests of property companies.
Robert Soning, co-founder of developer Londonewcastle, is understood to have hosted one of the tables at the event and The Times today quoted him as describing the ensuing media furore as a ‘non-event’.
Ian Hawksworth, chief executive of Capital & Counties, was also reportedly at the Presidents Club event.
Tony Gibbon, a partner at GM Real Estate, confirmed that he attended but declined to make a comment to the paper.
There is no suggestion that any of the names above were involved in any inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation (BPF), told the AJ that the behaviour reported by the FT was ’shocking’ and ‘unacceptable’.
‘The first time I became aware of this event was when I read these reports and I was surprised and appalled by them,’ she said. ‘I’m not denying that there were a number of property people attending and there has been a long-standing desire in the industry to raise money for charity. Now clearly at this event the way in which things took place was totally unacceptable.
‘This is a wake-up call that these behaviours still exist. We must do everything we can to make sure they don’t happen in our industry and under our watch.’
The BPF last year launched a drive to make the property sector more diverse and inclusive.
Neal Hudson, a residential property analyst, told the FT: ‘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.’
On Twitter, Estates Gazette journalist David Hatcher tweeted that, a few years ago, he had gone to a drinks event with one of the attendees at the dinner.
‘Waitresses were all dressed in stripper gear,’ he said. ‘It was totally bizarre. Will never forget asking one who looked upset if she was OK. She just broke down in tears. I’ll never forget it.’
Despite widespread condemnation of the events at the Presidents Club dinner, one longstanding attendee told the FT that it was ’a boys’ night out’ and compared it to ‘a rugby club dinner’.
Went to a drinks do a few years back hosted by one of these individuals. Waitresses were all dressed in stripper gear. It was totally bizarre. Will never forget asking one who looked upset if she was ok. She just broke down in tears. I’ll never forget it https://t.co/A2aNMN8Lqg— David Hatcher (@hatcherdavid) January 23, 2018