What is the Presidents Club Charitable Trust?
The club attracts esteemed figures from the worlds of business, politics and celebrity.
The Presidents Club Charitable Trust emerged in the mid-Eighties, shortly before City of London executives began filling their pockets on the fruits of 24-hour financial trading and a deal-making boom sparked by the arrival of US investment banks.
While it was launched a year before the Big Bang of 1985, the club would find its feet in an era of fortune, as the City prospered from the sweeping financial deregulation backed by prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Attracting esteemed figures from the worlds of business, politics and celebrity, it held men-only dinner parties where guests were encouraged to make hefty charitable donations through prize auctions.
After 33 years, it claims to have raised more than £20 million for charities such as Action for Kids, the Sick Kids Friends Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care.
According to financial records held by Open Charities, it dished out £2.2 million to charities in 2016, nearly double the £1.22 million paid the year before.
However, a Financial Times investigation exposing alleged instances of sexual harassment at the club’s most recent event at The Dorchester hotel has cast a dark shadow over the organisation.
The three men listed as the club’s trustees on the Charity Commission website are David Meller, Harvey Soning and Bruce Ritchie.
As well as chairing the Meller Group, one of the biggest luxury home and beauty suppliers in the UK, Mr Meller was until Wednesday a non-executive board member for the Department for Education and the Apprenticeship Delivery Board.
With operations in London and Bradford, the Meller Group specialises in accessories, textiles, jewellery and beauty products.
Mr Soning, 72, is a property developer who chairs agency James Andrew International, which he founded in 1974 following stints at Peachey Property Corporation and Guardian Properties.
He has been involved in several “major property developments”, investment acquisitions and disposals around the world, according to James Andrew’s website, and is a well-known face within the property industry.
Last year, Mr Soning sold a majority stake in his cleaning and security business Templewood to South African investors.
Mr Ritchie, another property tycoon, is chief executive and founder of Mayfair-based Residential Land Group.
He started life as a sole trader and, according to the company, has over the years built up “prime central London’s largest private landlord”.
He was also the joint owner with Marco Pierre White of the White Star Line restaurant group, which included Mirabelle, Drones, Quo Vadis and Criterion.