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JCoSS chair of trustees resigns after link to Presidents Club emerges

Harvey Soning was a trustee of the charity that hosted a men-only dinner where female staff were alleged to have been sexually harassed

    Harvey Soning
    Harvey Soning (Photo: Property Week)

    The chairman of trustees of a Jewish school has stepped down after his senior position at the Presidents Club emerged.

    Harvey Soning resigned from his post at JCoSS after he was identified as a trustee of the charity at the centre of a storm over a men-only dinner at which female staff were alleged to have been sexually harassed.

    In a statement, the school's board of trustees confirmed that “Harvey Soning has resigned and his resignation has been accepted with regret. 

    “We would like to thank Mr Soning for all the hard work he has done over the years; a new chair will be appointed in due course.” 

    On the Charity Commission website, Mr Soning, a property consultant and developer, is listed, as one of three trustees of the Presidents Club. The charity holds an annual high-profile dinner and auction that has raised millions of pounds over the past three decades.

    However, an exposé by the Financial Times published on Tuesday revealed that at this year’s event, held last week at the Dorchester hotel, “many of the [female] hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere.”

    David Meller, another Jewish member of the Presidents Club board, yesterday resigned from his role as a non-executive director for the Department for Education. It was reported this morning that he is to take “a leave of absence” from the academy trust, which runs four schools, which he founded.

    On the Presidents Club website, JCoSS was included in a list of beneficiaries that have received money from the charity.

    A JCoSS spokesperson said: “The Presidents Club is a registered charity and the school is entitled to assume that, as such, its fundraising activities are legal and subject to proper regulatory scrutiny. 

    “The [JCoSS] trustees understand that the Charity Commission is investigating and so will await the outcome of this before taking any decision or making any further comment on this matter.”

    Mr Soning is chairman of James Andrew International, a property consultancy. When the firm was contacted, the JC was told not to expect a comment.

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