- Downing Street claimed that Nadhim Zahawi had attended the Presidents Club dinner “briefly” before leaving “at the point the hostesses were introduced by the host.”
- However, this does not tally either with the Financial Times’ report, or Zahawi’s own statement.
- Statement by Zahawi suggests he remained at the event for an hour and a half after the women were introduced.
- A spokesman for Theresa May is unable to explain the discrepancy.
LONDON – When it was revealed that one of Theresa May’s ministers had attended the Presidents Club dinner, where dozens of women were allegedly groped and harassed, a spokesman for the prime minister claimed that the Nadhim Zahawi had attended the event “briefly” but had left “at the point the hostesses were introduced by the host.”
“Mr Zahawi clearly did attend the event briefly and he has himself said that he felt uncomfortable at it leaving at the point the hostesses were introduced by the host,” the spokesperson said at a briefing attended by Business Insider.
The education minister himself later tweeted to the Telegraph’s Steven Swinford: “I arrived at 8pm and left at 9:35pm as I felt uncomfortable. I did not see any of the horrific events reported by the FT. I am shocked by them and condemn them unequivocally.”
I have been consistent Steve. I told No10 and friends that I arrived at 8pm and left at 9:35pm as I felt uncomfortable. I did not see any of the horrific events reported by the FT. I am shocked by them and condemn them unequivocally.
— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) January 24, 2018
However, these two accounts don’t seem to stack up.
According to the Financial Times, women were lined up and paraded in front of the men at around 8pm.
The paper reported:”As the 8pm start time approached, all of the hostesses were told to form two lines in height order, tallest women first, ready to parade across the stage as music began to boom across the venue: “Power”, by British girl band Little Mix. Entering in twos from opposite sides on to a stage positioned at the front of the ballroom, hostesses presented themselves to the men before walking towards their allocated tables alongside dinner guests. This continued until all 130 women were spread across the room.”
If the FT’s account is correct then Downing Street’s claims that Zahawi appeared at the event “briefly” before leaving “at the point the hostesses were introduced” does not appear to be true.
Nor does Zahawi’s claim not to have seen any of the events reported by the FT.
A spokesperson for the prime minister was unable to explain this discrepancy at this morning’s lobby briefing, saying only that “I’m not going to get into reported timings,” before adding that “the minister has said he felt uncomfortable and left early.”
You should expect this story to keep on running.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.
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