A number of senior Labour politicians have signed a letter to Theresa May calling for Harvey Weinstein to be stripped of his CBE.
The Hollywood producer, who has been fired from the Weinstein Company following a number of allegations of harassment from women in the movie industry, received the honour at an investiture ceremony at the residence of the British consul general in New York in 2004. Mrs May has already expressed “concern” about the accusations but said it was not a matter for Downing Street.
An 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 New York Times 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 Weinstein of 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.”