Lord Grade defends attendance at 2006 Presidents Club event

The chair of the Fundraising Regulator says the event has degenerated since he last attended

Lord Grade
Lord Grade

Lord Grade, the chair of the Fundraising Regulator, has defended his attendance at an all-male gala dinner thrown by the Presidents Club Charitable Trust in 2006, saying the event had "degenerated" since he last attended.

The Presidents Club this week announced that it would be closing after undercover reporters from the Financial Times attended one of its annual events to raise money for a range of children’s charities and revealed that the female hostesses, who were selected for being "tall, thin and pretty", had been groped, had hands put up their skirts and been invited into bedrooms by male attendees.

The annual events were the only fundraising activity carried out by the Presidents Club, which had been running them for more than 30 years.

Several hostesses at this year's event, which took place last week, told the undercover reporter they had experienced similar sexual harassment in previous years.

In today’s Times, the entertainer and TV host Jonathan Ross admitted he had hosted the event in 2006, saying he had done so as "personal favour" to Grade, a former television executive.

In a statement published this afternoon on its website, the Fundraising Regulator said: "Lord Grade actively speaks at a number of charity events each year and supports a wide range of causes. 

"This has included asking Jonathan Ross to speak at the event in 2006. He has had no involvement with the organisation since."

The statement said Grade had told his fellow board members as soon as the FT story broke on Wednesday morning and recused himself from related decisions.

"Anything requiring the chairman’s input was immediately deferred to the deputy chairman," the statement said.

Lord Grade said: "I make many speeches for charitable causes and it is 12 years since I last accepted the club’s invitation.

"I am shocked to hear how such a previously worthwhile event has degenerated since I last attended".

The regulator said it had written to the trustees of the President’s Club "to seek further information on the fundraising event at the Dorchester and their handling of it".

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