Suspended Tesco commercial director John Scouler received a powerful show of support from suppliers and fellow Tesco executives this week, as he was forced to stay away from an event he masterminded to raise money for a charity.

Hundreds of Tesco suppliers descended on London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Wednesday for a star-studded Strictly Come Dancing-themed gala dinner in support of Grocery Aid, which raised an estimated £150,000.

Scouler, who as president of the charity came up with the idea, had to miss the event having been asked to step aside from his management role by Tesco CEO Dave Lewis as part of the ongoing investigation into a £250m black hole in the retailer’s finances.

“Tonight I’m representing both Tesco and John Scouler,” said John Farrell, Tesco’s commercial director for beers, wines and spirits, who stepped into his boss’s shoes at the event.

“This is a new event that John was very passionate about. The UK grocery business is an amazing one and we really do an amazing job of looking after each other in good times and particularly in bad times.”

Another Tesco executive said: “This event was John’s idea and it’s a huge credit to him the amount of money that’s been raised tonight. Obviously it is a difficult time for John and for the whole company but tonight was about raising money for charity and it was great to receive such support from our suppliers.”

Suppliers also expressed sympathy for the plight of Scouler and his fellow suspended colleagues.

“We obviously don’t know exactly what has happened in this case but to put all the blame of the trading culture at Tesco, and it has to be said other retailers, on people like John is harsh,” said one.

“Yes, there is a culture at Tesco which has been pushing very hard to preserve its margin but this has been going on for years and, if anything, under John, there appeared to be a more collaborative approach.”

This week three more executives: Dan Jago, global head of wine; director of convenience Sean McCurley and impulse category director William Linnane, were also asked to stand aside joining Scouler, Tesco UK MD Chris Bush, head of food sourcing Matt Simister, UK FD Carl Rogberg and group commercial director Kevin Grace.