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Scoop on alleged Presidents Club dinner sleaze sets new traffic record for Financial Times

The Financial Times scoop exposing a charity dinner at which women were allegedly sexually harassed by rich bosses has been viewed more than a million times.

FT reporter Madison Marriage went undercover as a hostess at the men-only Presidents Club fundraising event, which ran as the paper’s front page yesterday and was free to read on its paywalled website.

David Oakley, corporate affairs correspondent of the Financial Times, said on Twitter that the original story had reached 1.5m page views, double the previous record high on the FT’s website.

Following the exposé, the Presidents Club has announced it will shut down and the charities for whom funds were raised at the event have said they will be returning donations.

Presidents Club chairman David Meller has also resigned from his position as non-executive member at the Department for Education following the scandal.

The story has dominated media coverage this morning, with follow-ups on the front pages of most national newspapers. 

Marriage’s report described alleged incidents of sexual harassment – including groping – and indecent exposure after she revealed that hostesses were told to wear tight black dresses with matching underwear.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight about her investigation, Marriage said: “I was groped several times, and I know there are numerous other hostesses who said the same thing happened to them.”

Asked how she felt after the event, Marriage said: “At three in the morning, I’d just done a ten hour shift and I’d been working in the office beforehand, so I was exhausted and depressed.”

This is not the first time that the Presidents Club charity dinner has been covered by the media. 

In a 2010 Slackberry diary article published by The Independent, the author reported hostesses in short dresses being paid to chat with attendees.

It is quite a racy event for the conservative HSBC to sponsor, but the beauty parade seemed to be something of a hit,” the piece said.

“‘The boys tucked into the girls,’ confesses my man on the inside, before adding swiftly: ‘after I’d left.’ Naturally.”

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