Michael Gove backs 'decent and honourable' Nadhim Zahawi over men-only night storm

Posted On: 
25th January 2018

Michael Gove has leapt to the defence of a minister who attended a men-only charity event at which female members of staff were allegedly groped and sexually harassed.

Michael Gove has backed Nadhim Zahawi.
PA Images

The Environment Secretary said Nadhim Zahawi was a "decent and honourable guy" despite calls for him to be sacked as children's minister.

Mr Zahawi has insisted he was early to leave the Presidents Club dinner, which was held at the Dorchester Hotel last Thursday, and has "unequivocally condemned" the behaviour at it.

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An investigation by the Financial Times revealed that women working at the event were left feeling exploited after being told to wear "sexy" outfits and being propositioned by some of those in attendance.

Pressure has been mounting on Stratford-on-Avon MP Mr Zahawi, who was hauled before Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith for a dressing down, after the Prime Minister said she was "appalled" by what went on at the event.

But he received the high-profile backing of Mr Gove, who took to Twitter to speak up in his defence.

Former minister Anna Soubry also gave Mr Zahawi her support.

In a further boost for the minister, a spokesman for Theresa May insisted she retained "full confidence" in him.

He said: "In terms of an event of this type I think the Prime Minister's view is clear on this. She is appalled and this shows there is a long way to go to ensure women are treated properly as equals... She has not spoken to [Mr Zahawi]. He only spoke to the chief whip last night."

The spokesman added: "I think any woman who feels she was sexually harassed in the workplace should report it to the police. That is a crime."

David Meller, who helped organise the controversial event, was sacked yesterday as a member of the Department for Education's board.

Meanwhile, the Presidents Club announced it was disbanding in the wake of the furore.