Downing Street concern over Harvey Weinstein accusations

Downing Street concern over Harvey Weinstein accusations

Prime Minister said woman who came forward with complaints over the Jewish movie mogul's alleged conduct should be praised

Harvey Weinstein  
Photo credit: Joel Ryan/PA Wire
Harvey Weinstein Photo credit: Joel Ryan/PA Wire

Downing Street has expressed renewed concern over the allegations of sexual harassment by the movie mogul HarveyWeinstein.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said women who came forward with complaints such as those made against the Jewish film maker should be praised for their courage.

The spokesman again emphasised that any decision to strip Weinstein of his honorary CBE was a matter for the independent Honours Forfeiture Committee.

“The reports over the recent days are deeply concerning. Any unwanted sexual activity is completely unacceptable and any allegations should be investigated,” the spokesman said.

“Anyone who comes forward to report these kind of allegations should be praised for their courage.

“The independent Honours Forfeiture Committee considers cases where the honours system has been brought into disrepute.

“Their discussions are confidential. It is right that we let them get on with their work.”

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) has already announced it had suspended his membership, effective immediately.

Meanwhile, a number of senior Labour politicians have signed a letter to Theresa May calling for Harvey Weinstein to be stripped of his CBE.

The open letter to the Prime Minister has been signed by shadow industrial strategy minister Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for labour Jack Dromey, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Dawn Butler, shadow arts and heritage minister Kevin Brennan and the head of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, Jess Phillips.

The letter describes the accusations against Weinstein as “unacceptable and intolerable” and says keeping his honorary CBE in place risks “bringing the honours system into disrepute”.

It reads: “You must be aware of the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein CBE.

“Last week the  reported eight allegations of sexual harassment brought to trial against Mr Weinstein which were settled out of court.”

The allegations mentioned in the letter include “a $100,000 settlement from Weinstein to Rose McGowan” and “a case with an unnamed assistant, whom he reportedly tried to convince to give him a massage while he stood naked in front of her at a hotel”.

The Labour letter refers to Weinstein‘s apology released last week in which he said: “I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

The MPs say: “These actions are unacceptable and intolerable. They were unacceptable in the 1960s, they are unacceptable now and they may well be criminal under US and UK law.

“These revelations prove that Mr Weinstein has fallen far short of the standards we expect from recipients of a CBE. His continued membership runs the risk of bringing the honours system into disrepute and, moreover, sending the deeply troubling signal that our Government does not take women’s voices or allegations of sexual harassment seriously.

“We are therefore calling upon your Government to act urgently and strip Mr Weinsteinof his honorary CBE.”

Ms Onwurah said in a statement: “Everyone has the absolute right to work in whatever role their talents take them without being subject to sexual harassment – that is as true for the entertainment industry as any sector in the British economy.

“These allegations of sexual harassment and assault need to be taken seriously and it is unacceptable that someone accused of these appalling and potentially criminal acts should retain the honour of a CBE.

“The Government should act swiftly to start the process of stripping Weinstein‘s CBE from him, or it will send a profoundly worrying message about the value it places on women’s voices, our safety, our working environment and as a consequence the UK economy. Britain’s economic prosperity depends on everyone being able to contribute fully.”

On Monday, Labour MP Stella Creasy called for the removal of Weinstein‘s CBE.

She told the Press Association: “A CBE is an honour you get because you’ve done something that makes you someone our kids should look up to – not someone a woman should fear.

“It takes real courage to speak out against someone in a position of such influence – removing the CBE from Harvey Weinstein would send a strong message to victims of sexual harassment around the world that we believe them, and that being in a position of power doesn’t mean you can act without respect towards others.”

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