The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, was facing demands last night to discipline his transport chief for attending a “sexist” men-only dinner where the only women present were waitresses, can-can dancers and “a glamorous string quartet playing exciting music in even more exciting tight dresses”.
Sir Peter Hendy, the Commissioner of Transport for London, was criticised by the Fawcett Society for attending the dinner of the all-male Transport Golfing Society.
The CommonSpace website said Sir Peter attended the December dinner in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Portman Square, London, as a guest of the Scottish bus company Alexander Dennis Ltd. Photos of the event posted on the society’s website showed a “handsome body of men enjoying their dinner” alongside another picture of female performers in thigh-cut dresses who were said to be bringing “a new spectacle to the dinner”.
The golfing society’s rules state membership is open only to “gentlemen associated with the transport industry”, and that the dinner is “for gentlemen only”. Its website described the gathering as “one of the best sporting dinners of the year. With a glamorous string quartet playing exciting music in even more exciting tight dresses, a troupe of cancan dancers and a truly fun atmosphere”.
Janice Muir of the Fawcett Society said she would write to Mr Johnson about Sir Peter’s attendance at “an absolutely sexist event”. “We want Boris Johnson to take Sir Peter to task and issue an official reprimand,” she said. “This is a public sector figure serving Londoners, more than half of whom are women. To go to an event where the only women present are serving or entertaining while in ‘exciting tight dresses’ is to return to the dark ages.”
Sir Peter said last night: “It never occurred to me there was a policy of excluding women and that hasn’t been referred to in the invitations I have received. Now it’s clear there appears to be such a policy I will on no account accept an invitation again.
“I abhor sexism in any form and to see it apparently practised in this way is particularly inappropriate in an industry in which women are under represented and in which we are promoting careers, and equality, for women.”
He said he made a personal donation to the Fawcett Society yesterday and would be writing to Alexander Dennis Ltd “to make my views very clear and to invite them to dissociate from sexism in an industry that should be encouraging women to join it”.Reuse content