City outfit distances itself from scandal-hit gala
Mishcon de Reya has confirmed that one of its top lawyers DID attend the posh male-only Presidents Club charity dinner where female staff were allegedly harassed.
Nick Minkoff, a partner at Mishcon’s real estate practice in London, “attended the evening as a guest in order to support good causes”, a spokesperson for the firm told Legal Cheek. They continued:
“He is embarrassed by being associated with this event and has confirmed that he never personally witnessed any of the reported behaviours but does not dispute them. He himself condemns any such behaviours.”
The President Club’s black-tie dinner, held at Mayfair’s swanky Dorchester Hotel, hit headlines earlier this week after undercover Financial Times reporters allegedly witnessed hostesses subjected to “groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms”. The article continues:
“Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.”
Moreover, the FT report claims that guests could bid for prizes including a night at Soho’s Windmill strip club, or plastic surgery with the invitation to: “Add spice to your wife.”
Distancing itself from the dinner, Mishcon’s statement continues:
“The existence of male only events of the type operated by the Presidents Club are contrary to the core values of Mishcon de Reya, specifically that we always aim to foster a culture which thrives on diversity and respect for the individual. The firm endeavours in all its matters and dealings to be an inclusive environment where everyone can realise their full potential. The actions that took place that night were deplorable and should be condemned. They have no legitimate place in society.”
The revelations have prompted a number of women who had previously worked at the event to come forward with their experiences — including a law graduate. Speaking to the BBC, “Jo” (not her real name) explains how she was 20-years-old 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,” she says. The law grad continues:
“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.”
In light of the scandal, the Presidents Club’s trustees have confirmed they will close the event. A statement issued yesterday afternoon said:
“[We] will not host any further fundraising events. Remaining funds will be distributed in an efficient manner to children’s charities and it will then be closed.”