New childcare minister caught up in the Presidents Club scandal

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It has emerged that Zahawi is “on thin ice” after it was found that he was an attendee of a fundraising event at which hostesses were allegedly sexually harassed.

Organisers of the Presidents Club Charity Dinner, held at the Dorchester Hotel, have come under fire after it emerged that women were hired as waitresses and told to wear matching underwear and “sexy shoes”. 

Guests were reported to have groped and sexually propositioned the women employed at the event on the 18th January.

Childcare minister Zahawi was caught up in the revelations after it emerged that he had attended the dinner. He was called in for questioning by the Government’s Chief Whip, Julian Smith, on Wednesday night.

A government source said the childcare minister was told “it is not appropriate to attend events of this sort” and that he was “reminded of his obligations and responsibilities.”

A senior Tory MP said Zahawi was on “very thin ice”.

In response to an investigation by the Financial Times into the Presidents Club Charity Dinner, Mr Zahawi tweeted: “I do unequivocally condemn this behaviour. The report is truly shocking. I will never attend a men only function ever.”

He is said to have left the charity fundraiser early, having found it “extremely uncomfortable”.

The President’s Club has now announced it will permanently close and distribute any remaining funds to children’s charities. 

President’s Club trustee David Meller was a non-executive board member at the Department for Education and a trustee of the Mayor’s Fund for London. He has now resigned from both roles.

Asked for Theresa May’s opinion of the Presidents Club event, a source close to Number 10 said: “The Prime Minister was uncomfortable at the reports that she read this morning.

“Clearly, this is an event to which she would not be invited, because she is a woman.”

The source said that Mr Meller was asked to step down from his role in the Department for Education, adding: “The Prime Minister thinks that is the right decision.”

A number of charities, including Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, said they would refund any previous donations given to them by the Club in light of the recent allegations.

With Zahawi’s reputation hanging in the balance, has your opinion of our new childcare minister changed? Will this cause more damaging uncertainty for our sector?

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