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Presidents Club: Previous hostesses tell of their experiences

media captionFinancial Times journalist Madison Marriage: “I was groped several times”

An undercover report by the Financial Times has exposed the alleged sexual harassment of hostesses at a charity dinner organised by The Presidents Club.

Since the story hit the headlines, a number of women who have previously worked at the event have come forward with their experiences.

Speaking to the BBC, they said they felt uncomfortable and described witnessing inappropriate behaviour at the annual event held at the Dorchester Hotel in London.

Here are two of their stories. We have changed their names to protect their identities.

'Flirtatious and handsy'

Jo was 20 when she worked at the dinner in 2015.

"I was a law student and wanted to make some extra money.

"I had been hosting for a few different agencies by that time, and those jobs were all boring and normal.

"We were given food and wine when we arrived and I remember thinking there is no such thing as a free lunch, which did put me on edge.

"Later in the evening the men got more drunk, more flirtatious and more 'handsy' - they were groping the girls.

"Another hostess told me one of the men had asked me to come to his table. I told her I'd rather stick pins in my eyes.

"Some of the girls looked shell-shocked at what was happening, and some were more comfortable and sitting on the men's lap.

"Later the event moved to a number of smaller bars in the hotel. I saw some girls go up in the lift with the men.

"When it was time to leave, I just couldn't wait to get out of there.

"From then on I associated the Dorchester with that night. I refused to work at the hotel ever again."

'Lines blurred'

Louise, who worked at the dinner in the same year, was a full-time model.

"For the Presidents Club event the client requested photos before we were hired.

"We were told to wear black nail varnish, sexy black shoes and black underwear. You also had to be at least 5ft 6in (1.7m).

"Men were summoning girls to sit on their laps. There were some girls who were voluntarily going over and were happy to talk to the guests. It was very flirtatious.

"The after-party was downstairs but I didn't go to that. I suppose this is where everything happened.

"I was paid £170 plus £20 for travel.

"This felt like a completely different atmosphere to other hosting events that I have worked at. The lines of what is acceptable and right felt very blurred.

"I never worked for the agency again."

By George Pierpoint and Helen Dafedjaiye, UGC and Social News

Related Topics

  • Sexual harassment

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