Another of the charities which said it would return six-figure donations from a controversial fundraising event is poised to perform a U-turn and keep the money.
Sky News understands that the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which is supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, is close to deciding to keep £265,000 handed to it by the Presidents Club in 1998, 2013, 2016 and 2017.
Trustees are also discussing the fate of a £400,000 pledge at last month’s dinner at London’s Dorchester hotel by Richard Caring, the owner of top restaurants in the capital including Le Caprice and The Ivy.
Mr Caring promised to donate the funds for a new intensive care unit at the hospital, and is now understood to have told its charitable wing that he will give the money privately, despite the Presidents Club’s winding-up.
Like Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH), which originally vowed to hand back donations from last month’s scandal-hit event, Evelina had said it was “not the kind of event we would wish to be associated with and we will therefore be declining funding from it and returning all previous donations from the Presidents Club”.
However, Lord Fink, the former hedge fund boss who serves as Evelina’s honorary president, is said to have told trustees that he was opposed to returning the previous donations.
“He doesn’t want to do anything which could disadvantage the sick children who are treated at the hospital,” a person close to Lord Fink, a former Conservative Party treasurer, said on Tuesday.
Although he is not formally a trustee of the hospital charity, the peer is an influential figure at Evelina.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity said: “We have written to the Charity Commission about our proposed course of action and are currently in dialogue with them about our next steps.”
The Evelina, like GOSH, is understood to have received feedback from other donors opposing the decision to return the funds.
The Charity Commission has a formal role in approving voluntary organisations’ intention to return funds pledged to them.
The board of trustees of GOSH’s charity – which is chaired by John Connolly, a heavyweight business figure who chairs G4S, the outsourcing giant – is then expected to decide whether to overturn the original decision at a meeting on 27 March.
The furore over the Presidents Club was sparked by an undercover Financial Times investigation, which alleged that some attendees at last month’s dinner behaved inappropriately towards female staff.
The all-male dinner was waited on by scores of “hostesses” who were given instructions about the colour and style of underwear they were permitted to wear.
They were also obliged to sign non-disclosure agreements relating to the behaviour of guests attending the dinner, who included dozens of executives from the property and financial services industries.
The fallout from the FT’s investigation led to the resignation of David Meller – the Presidents Club’s chairman – from the board of the Department for Education.
The Bank of England was among the organisations which cancelled events auctioned at the Dorchester, while Nadhim Zahawi, the Children and Families Minister, was rebuked for his brief attendance at the dinner.
A number of other charities, including the Royal Academy of Music, also said they would return Presidents Club donations.