Mark Carney has said he was “utterly dismayed” by sleaze claims surrounding an all-male charity fundraiser, in his first public comments on the event.
The Bank of England governor told the BBC that revelations about the Presidents Club dinner had left him “appalled”, though he was heartened by the “visceral” wave of reaction after details of the event emerged.
Female staff reported being groped and propositioned at the charity gala at London’s Dorchester Hotel, which had a 360-strong guest list including celebrities and leading figures from finance, business and politics.
However, one businessman who attended the fundraiser has told Sky News he was shocked at the way it had been portrayed, following an investigation by the Financial Times newspaper, and denied it was “some kind of Roman orgy”.
Public figures including Theresa May have expressed their revulsion.
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Mr Carney told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are utterly dismayed and appalled by the events there.
“If I can try to put something positive from this, I am encouraged by the scale, scope and depth of the reaction, and the visceral reaction of a variety of people, not just in public life, but across the country.
“I think it demonstrates to people how much the culture has moved on, in a positive sense.”
Anne Richards, chief executive of M&G Investments and one of the most prominent women in finance, told Sky News the behaviour was “completely unacceptable”.
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She said it exposed those “who still seem to be living in a world that most of us thought we’d left behind decades ago”.
The Bank of England was inadvertently been dragged into the affair when it emerged that the chance to have tea with the governor had been on offer at the charity event.
Mr Carney said he had never heard of the Presidents Club before the event.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the opportunity to meet the governor, offered by the Bank via the Lord Mayor’s charity appeal, had apparently been re-auctioned. The Bank made clear the engagement would not be honoured.
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Mr Carney’s remarks came as Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn was effectively sacked from his front bench role as spokesman on business and international trade after details of his attendance at the Presidents Club came to light.
Charities including Great Ormond Street Hospital’s appeal have said they will return money raised for them through the dinner.