Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Alleged sexual misconduct: Westwood steps down from radio show

Renowned DJ, Tim Westwood has stepped down from his show on Capital Xtra until further notice, according to the station’s parent company, after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him by multiple women.

It came a little more than 24 hours after Westwood was accused by seven women of misusing his position in the music industry to take advantage of them, after a joint investigation by the Guardian and BBC News.

At least three venues have cancelled appearances by the DJ since the allegations, while the head of the BBC called them “shocking and appalling” and urged anyone with evidence of wrongdoing to come forward, promising any complaints would be taken seriously.

One of the women who told her story to the Guardian and the BBC said she was relieved. “Finally people’s allegations are starting to be taken seriously,” she said.

The women, who are all black, decided to tell their stories in the aftermath of anonymous allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Westwood circulating on social media in June 2020. In a statement at the time, Westwood denied any wrongdoing, saying the allegations online were fabricated, false and without foundation.

Three women accused the DJ of opportunistic and predatory sexual behaviour, while four others allege they were groped by him at events. The women were all in their late teens or early 20s when they say the incidents happened. The earliest alleged incident took place in 1992, and the most recent in 2017.

Westwood has strenuously denied all the allegations. A spokesperson said they were completely false and denied in their entirety. They said: “In a career that has spanned 40 years, there have never been any complaints made against him officially or unofficially. Tim Westwood strongly rejects all allegations of wrongdoing.”

Global, Capital Xtra’s parent company, confirmed that the station and the DJ were parting ways after nine years. A Global spokesperson said: “Following the claims that have recently come to light, Tim Westwood has stepped down from his show until further notice.”

The director general of the BBC, Tim Davie, described the claims made against Westwood, who was at the corporation for 20 years, as “shocking” and “appalling”.

Davie, who was the head of radio output at the BBC when Westwood was the voice of rap and hip-hop on Radio 1, said he had seen no evidence of complaints being made against the DJ at the BBC.

Davie said: “It is shocking and the testimony of the women is powerful and appalling. I credit the BBC and Guardian teams for going after the story.”

Asked whether the BBC had any records of formal complaints about Westwood, he said: “I’ve seen no evidence of complaints. I’ve asked and we looked at our records and we’ve seen no evidence.

“Every complaint has to be taken seriously. If anything comes up we will investigate it fully. If people have evidence where things weren’t followed up or they have concern in this area bring it to us … we will follow up anything and we will dig and dig and dig. If people have got evidence of wrongdoing we need to bring it forward.”

Davie said there was “nothing worse in life” than abuse of power. “It’s about values, setting the right culture and putting leaders in place. It’s completely unacceptable,” he said.

Pamela*, one of the women who spoke to the Guardian and BBC, was critical of the BBC for affording the DJ status and celebrity – a position she believes he abused and which she claims enabled his behaviour.

“He’s this big public figure, you are just a girl from a small town,” she said. “Who are people going to believe?”

She said she was disappointed but not surprised to hear criticism of the women who told their stories to the Guardian and the BBC on social media. “I’ve read people saying these women are just doing [this] to get money off somebody who’s established and they want attention – those people must have been bottom of their class in school.”

Tamara*, who said she met the DJ in 1992 as a 17-year-old while a member of an R&B group, said that after the “deafening silence” from Global in the first 24 hours after the allegations surfaced she was thrilled the company and Westwood had parted ways.

“I think the allegations were too great and too deep in number for [the show]to continue. The thought of him hosting his show regularly on a Saturday evening would have been totally appalling,” she said.

Three venues have cancelled scheduled appearances by Westwood. The DJ was due to play at the Rum Rum nightclub in Birmingham on 1 May but the event has been cancelled, as has an appearance at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis and a further event at Pitch Stratford.

The UK hip-hop pioneer Cookie Pryce, a former member of the Cookie Crew and now a music industry executive, said it was time for a “fair and open” conversation about Westwood’s standing in black music and culture. “Our culture, our music, our creativity, everything about us, has been appropriated for generations, and I just think people are very, very tired. They are exhausted,” she said.

Andrea Simon, the director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said no woman should have to fear reporting an experience because they may not be believed. “But we know this is a daily experience for Black women and all who experience racial discrimination in a justice system that is so badly stacked against [them],” she said.

(The Guardian)

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