TWO online petitions have been launched calling for under fire Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi to be sacked or resign following his attendance at The Presidents Club charity dinner a week ago.
One petition appeared on the website Change.org today, while an attempt to start another on petition.parliament.uk was also made.
The Parliament petition is inviting people to sign in favour of the proposal after widespread national media coverage revealed Mr Zahawi had attended the dinner at The Dorchester Hotel but left early because he felt “uncomfortable” at the event.
The wording in the petition claims: “Nadhim Zahawi attended the Presidents Club event in his capacity as Minister and front bench Conservative MP. An event where women were sexually abused and threatened to be fired if they spoke out. He has failed to hold the high expectations we expect from a Minister.
We demand his resignation and if that fails, we demand Theresa May to fire him as a Minister for Children and Families. It is unacceptable that a Minister just stayed quiet at such a event. It is beyond us, that he failed to question the logic behind such a ‘men only’ event. You can raise money for charity INCLUDING women and exclusion of women from such events is unacceptable.”
The Parliament petition is yet to go live as the website is in the process of checking it meets petition standards before it is published.
Prime Minister Theresa May has resisted calls from some Labour MPs to sack Mr Zahawi and said she thought he “probably regretted his decision to go.” But public pressure has now put a new twist on the saga with the launch of the petition today.
There was no sign of Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi earlier when the Herald went to the Conservative’s constituency office in Trinity Street, Stratford-upon-Avon to try to meet with him following revelations in the national press about his attendance at the men only charity dinner in Mayfair a week ago.
Today, Friday, is usually the day set aside by Mr Zahawi for his constituency duties but attempts by the Herald to talk with him at the Conservative office in Trinity Street, Stratford-upon-Avon proved unsuccessful.
The whereabouts of Mr Zahawi remain – for the time being – unclear. When asked twice by a Herald reporter speaking over the intercom at the Conservative office, if Mr Zahawi was available to talk to the press? The reporter was told, “he’s not in today.”
His Westminster office later confirmed he did hold his usual surgery but was not at the Conservative Party Office in Stratford.
Earlier this week Nadhim Zahawi is said to have been reprimanded by the government’s chief whip after he was caught up in The Presidents’ Club scandal.
The BBC reported he was called to Downing Street on Wednesday to explain his attendance at the dinner to Tory chief whip Julian Smith.
Mr Zahawi is not the subject of any of the allegations from the event which he said he left early because he felt “uncomfortable” and departed at 9.35 pm.
This week fellow Conservatives voiced support for their colleague on social media.
Molly Giles, Conservative district councilor for Shottery tweeted: “Nadhim Zahawi is noticeably kind and respectful towards women. I have no doubt about his motives in attending what was ostensibly a fundraising dinner for extremely good causes.”
To which he replied, “Thank you Molly. Your words mean a lot to me.”
Meanwhile Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “My friend Nadhim Zahawi is a really decent and honourable guy who’s in public life to help others – part of a great team at DFE.”
Earlier this month Mr Zahawi was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education.
He has been criticised in the national media and by a number of Labour MPS this week who questioned his judgement for attending the men only dinner at The Dorchester Hotel in London a week ago, Thursday, which allegedly involved the sexual harassment of some of the 130 hostesses working at the venue by some male guests who were present.