David Meller resigns from DfE board following Presidents Club allegations

David Meller, the co-chair of the controversial Presidents Club charity dinner that has been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment by guests, has resigned from the Department for Education’s board.

Anne Milton, an education minister with responsibility for the board, announced in Parliament this afternoon that Meller has stood down from both his non-executive director role at the DfE and the Apprenticeship Delivery Board.

But questions remain over whether Meller will continue in his roles at the Meller Educational Trust, an academy trust with four schools and one university technical college which he founded, and where he currently serves as a member, trustee and chair.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Milton said she had never heard of the dinner until allegations of “inappropriate and lewd behaviour” at the event were published by the Financial Times last night.

“It is quite extraordinary to me that in the 21st century, allegations of this kind are still emerging,” said Milton, who was flanked by new education secretary Damian Hinds.

“Women have the right to feel safe wherever they work, and allegations of this type of behaviour are completely unacceptable.”

Milton said departmental board members were expected to stick to a code of conduct, which states that “adhere to the seven principles of public life”.

“David Meller is stepping down as non-executive member for the Department for Education and the apprenticeship delivery board, and I know that the secretary of state is absolutely clear that this is the right thing to do,” she continued, insisting that the event was “absolutely nothing to do with the Department for Education”.

Jess Phillips, the Labour MP who asked the urgent question that prompted Milton’s statement, said she welcomed Meller’s resignation.

“Women were bought as bait for men, rich men, not a mile from where we stand, as if that is an acceptable behaviour. It is totally unacceptable,” she said.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, told MPs that Meller “should not have any other roles in education”.

More to follow.

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  1. The government bodies that appoint Messers D. Meller and T. Young et al to high office should do their due diligence including a simple Google search. If they did and appointed these people anyway shame on them. If they did not bother shame on them. This government framed the Principles of Public Life and British Values, rightly so and well done. Now they have to lead on them. I am sure this more forensic approach would be something even Mr. Watson would approve of.

    • Mark Watson

      I don’t know how anyone would be able to check whether it’s correct, but before the FT expose I’d never heard of the Presidents Club let alone about allegations of such behaviour. I would think it’s quite likely that a Google search on Mr Meller carried out two weeks ago wouldn’t have picked it up either (though like I say I have no way of knowing if that’s right).
      Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the fact that it now seems unarguable that Mr Meller was an entirely inappropriate appointment does not mean that the process that appointed him was flawed.
      I think the Toby Young appointment is an entirely different issue. I have no doubt that whoever selected him knew what they were getting in terms of the confrontational and often outlandish comments he had previously made.