Philip Toscano/PA Wire
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Presidents Club dinner a 'wake-up call' for churches to confront sexual harassment

Thu 25 Jan 2018
By Alex Williams

Claims of groping and sexual harassment occurring during a men-only charity dinner in London have been described as a "wake-up call" for churches that ill-treatment against women can occur anywhere.

Premier spoke with Christian gender justice specialist after the surfacing of allegations that hostesses were targeted during a Presidents Club dinner - an annual event attended by wealthy and influential figures - last week.

Natalie Collins encouraged congregations to recognise that church communities are not immune from sexual impropriety, and they should take seriously the claims of women who say they have been abused.

 

She explained: "As Christians, we like to think that our communities are safe.

"We like to think that we're able to judge accurately whether somebody is a safe person to be around.

"What we often see, particularly when Christians are accused of bad behaviour of any sort, there is often a lot of people who come to their defence... because their experience of this person has been good.

"It's about us all being willing to open our hearts and minds to the fact we may not be fully able to know whether somebody is or isn't abusive..."

The spotlight fell on the Presidents Club after the Financial Times sent two undercover reporters to the black-tie dinner at the Dorchester Hotel last Thursday.

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The Charity Commission said it is investigating the allegations, while dozens of MPs have demanded to know whether any crimes were committed.

Reacting to the allegations, Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled", adding she will work to ensure women are "genuinely" respected.

The Presidents Club has announced it is to close.

The Dorchester Hotel said it has launched an investigation, adding it was unaware of any claims following the event.

Click here to listen to Premier's Care Bentley speaking with gender justice specialist Natalie Collins:

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