Holocaust charity boycotts Dorchester hotel over Sharia law

The Dorchester Hotel (Photo: Christine Matthews)

The Dorchester Hotel (Photo: Christine Matthews)

The Holocaust Educational Trust has relocated its annual dinner from the Dorchester hotel as calls to boycott the venue grow.

The charity said it was fundamentally at odds with the repressive Sharia laws introduced by Dorchester owner the Sultan of Brunei in the south east Asia kingdom.

HET’s fundraising event will instead be moved to a new venue.

Brunei ruler Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced the implementation of Sharia punishments in April. They will include the severing of limbs for theft and the death sentence for gay people and adulterers.

Karen Pollock, HET chief executive, said: “Although the team at the Dorchester have always been nothing less than wonderful to work with, our position as a charity promoting tolerance and fighting prejudice in all forms is fundamentally at odds with the implementation of repressive and anti-egalitarian laws in Brunei.

“For that reason we cannot see how we can hold an event from which the Sovereign Wealth Fund and the Sultan of Brunei would benefit.”

HET did not pay a deposit to the Dorchester and is not thought to face a financial loss as a result of its decision.

The Sultan’s family owns the Dorchester Collection which manages a number of luxury hotels around the world.

Supporters of the boycott include Richard Branson and Stephen Fry. Gay rights charity Stonewall has said it will not use the Dorchester in the future.

Other Jewish organisations were also considering their position this week.

Kosher caterer Tony Page said he had no plans to stop working at the hotel. In a statement the firm said: “Our relationship with the iconic Dorchester h otel goes back more than 30 years.

“They demonstrate their support to our clientele by regularly donating their ballroom and services to several Jewish charities. Apart from HET there have been no changes to existing, or as we see it, future plans.”

UJIA held a women’s lunch at the hotel in March. When asked whether it was planning any future events at the venue, the charity declined to comment.

A spokesman for learning difficulties charity Langdon said it would not book the Dorchester for its dinner this year, but for reasons unconnected to the boycott.

He said: “This was a decision taken for logistical and booking reasons some time ago. We are aware of the concerns regarding the Dorchester, and will bear this in mind and look very hard at the situation if we do decide to go back there in the future.”

Conservative Friends of Israel, which has also previously held lunches at the Park Lane banqueting suite, said it had not used the venue “for a long time” and was unlikely to do so again in the future.

Dorchester Collection chief executive Christopher Cowdray said: “While we recognise people's concerns, we believe this boycott should not be directed to our hotels and dedicated employees.

“The impact of this not only affects our loyal team members but extends to the local community. All profits from Dorchester Collection continue to be re-invested into the hotels, their people and communities.”

Last updated: 12:05pm, June 13 2014