Social media debate over the Presidents Club dinner allegations have ranged from outrage to some who believe the female hostesses “knew what they were getting into.”
CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “If even half of what’s been written about this event is true, it is deplorable.
“We want our young women to feel confident and respected in all walks of life. We can and must do better than this.”
ITV journalist Robert Peston said the men who attended should be “utterly ashamed”, however Talk Radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer thought the dinner’s hostesses were also at fault.
Quoting Peston’s tweet she said: “Shouldn’t the women who agree to work at this event also be utterly ashamed?”
In a similar vein, Twitter user @MissLightCocoa1 said: “The girls knew what they were getting into. It’s a shame all this happened at a charity event but the agency told the girls they would have to dress like sluts for rich men.
“They were warned.”
By contrast, Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said women “don’t choose to be objectified”.
She wrote: “For the idiots claiming #PresidentsClub women were there by choice: what luxury & privilege to be able to argue contrarian view.
“Women don’t choose to be objectified, harassed and paid less for jobs men define/don’t want. Our ‘choices’ are shaped daily by the limits placed on us.”
Former barrister Laura Perrins thought the issue raised broader questions about feminism.
She wrote: “Ok, so I want to know what the rules are now in light of #PresidentsClub?
“Are women adults who can choose what to work at or not? Or do they have to run their jobs past their feminist overlords? Any wrong doing should be reported to police and/or agency.”
Meanwhile, LBC broadcaster James O’Brien said: “If you’re dealing with people claiming that the #PresidentsClub story is a storm in a teacup, just tell them it’s been misreported and that the massive majority of men in the room were actually Muslim.
“Then watch their heads explode before explaining that you were just kidding.”
Many took aim at David Walliams, who hosted the evening but is not the subject of any allegations.
Twitter user and public policy professional Emma Burnell said all involved, including Walliams, “should be deeply ashamed”.
Walliams took to Twitter himself to say he left immediately after he finished hosting, did not witness the alleged behaviour and is “absolutely appalled by the reports”.
This was a standpoint comedian Mitch Benn defended, tweeting: “I don’t know what it’s like at his level of the industry but down at my paygrade it’s annoyingly common to arrive at a gig and find it’s NOT what you signed up for…”
However, another Twitter user, Michael Bell, was suspicious of claims by attendees that they had left before seeing any sexual harassment.
He wrote: “Considering how many men apparently left the #PresidentsClub event early it’s amazing they raised any money at all!”