Music lobby group headed by ex-Labour deputy leader Tom Watson is ‘failing to fight for victims of sexual harassment within the pop industry’
- Critics questioned why UK Music have not acknowledged problem in industry
- Tom Watson was appointed the group’s chairman despite backing Carl Beech
- Singer Rebecca Ferguson is among those urging UK Music to publicly do more
The music industry lobby group headed by former Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson was last night accused of failing to publicly stand up for victims of sexual harassment.
Critics questioned why UK Music had failed to acknowledge the growing nature of the problem within the industry, despite 800 women coming forward to complain of unwanted attention in a survey two years ago by the Musicians’ Union.
The furore is embarrassing for Mr Watson, who was controversially appointed chairman of UK Music despite previously backing the lies of fantasist Carl Beech that a VIP paedophile ring operated in Westminster.
Former Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson, pictured at Glastonbury in 2019, is chairman of UK Music
After Mr Watson used parliamentary privilege to peddle false allegations in the Commons, several high-profile figures were arrested, only for Beech’s story to unravel.
Beech was jailed for 18 years in 2019 for perverting the course of justice, fraud and child sex offences.
Influential figures including Sir Cliff Richard, who was himself falsely accused of sexual offences, and T’Pau singer Carol Decker questioned Mr Watson’s suitability for the role to which he was appointed last April.
Sources claim it was suggested to UK Music last year that it act as a point of contact for victims – possibly by setting up an anonymous phone line – but that the plans ‘fell by the wayside’.
The absence of public comment by UK Music has raised speculation about its relationship with influential industry bodies that are closely tied with the record companies, some of whose executives are suspected of exploiting women.
Rebecca Ferguson, a runner-up on ITV’s X Factor, who earlier this month reported a man who works in the music industry to the Metropolitan Police for alleged coercive control and harassment, last night urged UK Music to do more.
‘I would welcome the expertise and professional input from UK Music and other UK-based organisations that work to help our creative industry,’ she said.
‘I hope that UK Music and others will lobby for new legislation to be put in place to protect people working within the industry.’
UK Music is currently running a campaign to encourage racial diversity and an initiative to help disabled people.
It is also lobbying the Government to update shared parental leave and pay rules to include self-employed parents. The initiatives feature on UK Music’s internet home page, but there is no mention on it of sexual harassment.
Singer Rebecca Ferguson has called for more to be done by UK Music to protect those within the industry
A spokesman for the organisation said: ‘UK Music takes sexual harassment and abuse extremely seriously. We are in discussions with the Government about dealing with these issues.
‘UK Music promotes best practice across the industry and we strongly support the work of our members at the Musicians’ Union and their Safe Space scheme, which helps people who have been subject to harassment or abuse.
‘We are determined that the music industry should be a safe and welcoming environment for the 200,000 people who work in our sector, and are committed to tackling sexual abuse and harassment.’
However, UK Music declined to provide details of who it had talked to within the Government, when the talks were held and what was discussed.
In a statement sent to The Mail on Sunday by UK Music, Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said: ‘I have every confidence that we will receive support from UK Music going forward on tackling sexual harassment in the industry.
‘Following Rebecca Ferguson’s campaigning work, UK Music have been in touch with Government officials on this subject and I know there is a lot of work we can do together to improve the culture of workplaces.’
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