BY TOBY PORTER
Bosses at a children’s hospital have sent back £265,000 in donations from a highly controversial banquet.
The board of Evelina Hospital, in Waterloo, decided quickly on Wednesday it did not want to receive money from the President’s Club (PC), where allegations that hostesses were groped at a male-only fundraiser on January 18 led to its closure.
Evelina will also refuse a £400,000 donation pledged at the event, at the Dorchester Hotel, for the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Within hours of the revelations, an investigation was launched and the President’s Club was closed down permanently.
It had already given Evelina a total of £265,000 over the course of the past 10 years, with amounts donated in 1998, 2013, 2016 and last year – but all that will now be sent back.
A spokesman from Evelina London Children’s Hospital said:
“We are very alarmed by the allegations about the behaviour of some of those attending the President’s Club fundraising dinner. This is not the kind of event we would wish to be associated with and we will therefore be declining funding from it and returning all previous donations from the President’s Club.
“These donations were just one source of funding for the new Intensive Care Unit at Evelina London and the work will still go ahead. We continue to actively fundraise to support the vital work of Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
“In addition to the £400,000 pledged at the recent fundraising event, we have previously received donations totalling around £265,000 via four donations given in 1998, 2013, 2016 and 2017.”
More than 100 female hosts were hired for the event to mingle with 360 elite guests from business, finance and politics bidding in auctions for items such as lunch with Boris Johnson and tea with Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
The £400,000 would have bought the equivalent of a digital scanner, improved radiology diagnosis, consultation rooms and broadened services for patients – Weston General Hospital in Somerset is currently raising this amount to do exactly that.
Organisers of the event said they were “appalled” by allegations of impropriety.
A spokesman was quoted as saying in the national media: “The President’s Club recently hosted its annual dinner, raising several million pounds for disadvantaged children.
“The organisers are appalled by the allegations of bad behaviour at the event.
“Such behaviour is totally unacceptable. The allegations will be investigated fully and promptly and appropriate action taken.
“Remaining funds will be distributed in an efficient manner to children’s charities and (the club) will then be closed.
The Dorchester insisted it had a zero-tolerance policy to harassment of employees and guests. It said: “We are unaware of any allegations and should we be contacted we will work with the relevant authorities as necessary.”
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