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AlunaGeorge singer details sexual assault by industry figure

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Aluna Francis from AlunaGeorgeImage copyright
Robin Marchant

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Francis called the music industry “an unmonitored, unregulated cesspit of bad behaviour”

Aluna Francis has spoken for the first time about being sexually assaulted by someone in the music industry.

She told BBC podcast The Next Episode that the man forced his hands into her underwear, undressed and tried to coerce her into performing oral sex.

“It was like I was in a room with a completely different person,” said the AlunaGeorge singer. “His behaviour went from nought to a hundred.”

She has not disclosed the name of her alleged attacker.

Francis, whose dance duo scored several top 40 singles and were runners-up on the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list, said she had been working on a song with the music professional when the alleged attack took place in a hotel room.

“I was like, ‘All right mate, calm down. Take your hands out of my pants please’,” she said.

Despite her appeals, her alleged attacker’s behaviour escalated.

“The last thing that was happening before I really got myself out of there is that he pinned me down and he’d taken his trousers down.”

Francis said she had to “wrestle him off” to get away.

“I thought that I was okay and I’m just so not,” she said.

The musician has addressed sexual misconduct previously, in her track Mean What I Mean but has never shared details of the attack, which she did not report to police.

Francis told the BBC podcast that the music business, “is living in the past, an unmonitored, unregulated cesspit of bad behaviour”.

“If a woman wants to stay safe, it’s literally down to her to take care of that and navigate choices of whether to take a risk for her career or stay safe and miss out on opportunities.”

Other British musicians have come forward and spoken to The Next Episode about their experiences, including Rebecca Taylor who performs under the name Self Esteem and will be appearing at Glastonbury next week.

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Taylor is now a solo artist and performs as Self Esteem

Taylor, who was formerly in the band Slow Club, said she was sexually harassed by a record label boss.

“It’s a label that my then-band really wanted to be on,” she said, alleging the incident took place on a night out.

“He grabbed my vagina and said, “Am I going to have a good time?” she added.

Taylor did not disclose the experience to her bandmates at the time.

“I didn’t say anything,” she explained. “I really still wanted to be on that label and I wasn’t just representing myself, I was representing my whole band.”

Like Francis, Taylor has not named the alleged perpetrator. “I don’t have the financial success to name someone who would take everything from me,” she said.

While the Me Too movement – in which women have come forward with their experiences of sexual assault – has seen allegations taken to court in the film industry, Francis does not believe there has been any significant impact in the music industry.

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Rebecca Taylor and Chloe Howl were talking on the first in a series of podcasts looking into sexual misconduct in the music industry

“The Me Too movement barely touched the music industry,” she said.

Brit Awards nominee Chloe Howl told the BBC podcast she was also sexually harassed by someone who worked in the music industry.

“I think until we start valuing the women or the vulnerable people within the music industry… who have been victimised… it’s going to be really tricky,” she said.

She added she had taken strength from other women sharing their stories.

“I kind of found my voice a little bit more,” she explained. “I was able to have a huge go at the last person who did it.”

“But still it feels like it’s women who are having to crusade and educate people about the oppression that they suffer.”

Listen to The Next Episode on BBC Sounds.

This is the first in a series of podcasts looking into sexual misconduct allegations in the music industry. If you have been affected and would like to share your story, please get in touch at thenextepisode@bbc.co.uk or on WhatsApp at 07568 608 295.



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‘Deontay Wilder’s costume didn’t make an ounce of difference’

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The designer of Tyson Fury’s boxing outfits has told BBC Radio 5 Live that Deontay Wilder’s ring-walk costume wouldn’t have impacted the result of the fight.

Melissa Anglesea is the creative director of Lancashire-based Suzi Wong. The company has made Tyson Fury’s shorts and robes since the start of his boxing career.

Wilder told US media that Fury didn’t actually hurt him, but he lost because his costume was too heavy meaning his legs were “shot” from the beginning of the fight.

Anglesea dismissed Wilder’s claim and said the costume worn by the American made “absolutely no ounce of difference”.

For more reaction to the fight, listen to 5 Live Boxing with Costello & Bunce on BBC Sounds.



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Keith Lemon star hits out at fake Caroline Flack t-shirts being sold online

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Comedian Leigh Francis says fake versions of the charity t-shirt he made following the death of his friend Caroline Flack are being sold online.

The actor – better known as Keith Lemon – accuses other people of “ripping off” his design, which he made to support The Samaritans.

And he’s urging websites remove the fakes to make sure as much money as possible goes to charity.

So far, more than 11,000 of his original Be Kind tees have been sold.

Caroline took her own life earlier this month and Keith had known her for years.

Launching his t-shirt, he said he wanted to spread her #BeKind message – and said all the profits would go to charity.

But fakes have started springing up online.

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Teechip

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Some of the fakes Newsbeat found for sale online

Radio 1 Newsbeat’s found a number of sites selling the fakes – originals can only be purchased through Keith Lemon’s own pages.

And the comedian’s put out a number of messages on Instagram, urging people not to buy the copies.

“Thanks so much to everyone who’s bought a t-shirt for Be Kind. Unfortunately, there’s a website called Teespring.com that’s ripped off the design and unless they’re going to give that money to The Samaritans, then they’ve stolen my design and taken that money that would’ve gone to The Samaritans,” he said.

He then posted another message to say the company had removed the fakes.

Teespring has since apologised, saying all designs are created by “independent individuals”. It also says the user’s account has been “disabled” and that it “doesn’t support this behaviour”.

The company hasn’t said whether it’ll be handing over any profits to charity – but fakes are turning up on a number of other sites too.

Newsbeat has contacted several of the sites selling fakes but so far, there has been no comment.


If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article and want help or information you can visit BBC Advice.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.





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Harvey Weinstein accusers welcome rape and sexual assault conviction

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Media captionDistrict Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr: “Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator”

Accusers of Harvey Weinstein have welcomed the guilty verdicts in the rape and sexual assault case against the former Hollywood mogul.

Actress Rose McGowan told the BBC “this is a great day”, while others said the ruling brought hope to victims that their voices would be heard.

Weinstein, 67, was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act.

He was cleared of the most serious count of predatory sexual assault.

Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison over the guilty verdicts relating to two women. His lawyers say he will appeal.

“I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?” Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur Aidala quoted his client as saying.

The former movie executive still faces charges in Los Angeles of assaulting two women in 2013.

In all, at least 80 women had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.

The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that prompted women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

Weinstein once enjoyed phenomenal success with Oscar winners such Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love.

He was taken to New York’s Bellevue Hospital reportedly suffering from chest pains after the verdict was announced.

He had been due to be moved to prison on Riker’s Island to await sentencing.

What happened in the New York court?

The jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict on Monday morning, the fifth day of deliberations.

Weinstein – who denied all charges – was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. The judge ordered him to be sent to jail immediately.

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Reuters

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Weinstein showed no emotion in the minutes after the verdict

But the jury acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape of Mann.

In the minutes after the verdict, Weinstein showed no emotion as he talked to his lead lawyer Donna Rotunno.

A third-degree rape charge in New York is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent, or under age 17, or who has not given consent for a reason other than the inability to consent.

Prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who used his position of power in Hollywood to manipulate and attack women.

The defence team said sex between the movie executive and the accusers was consensual, and that the accusers used it to advance their careers.

The allegations amounted to “regret renamed as rape”, the defence said. Two of the accusers kept in contact with Weinstein and had sex with him after the alleged attacks, they pointed out.

How did we get here?

  • Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when the New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades
  • Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but disputed the allegations
  • As dozens more accusations emerged, Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company and all but banished from Hollywood
  • A criminal investigation was launched in New York in late 2017, but Weinstein was not charged until May 2018, when he turned himself in to police.
  • How the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded

What were the allegations in this case?

Ms Haleyi, who had worked on one of Weinstein’s television productions, said she was assaulted by the producer after he invited her to his Lower Manhattan home.

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Reuters

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Weinstein sexually assaulted former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006

She testified that he backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her.

Ms Mann said that she found herself in an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that did not involve intercourse until he raped her in a New York City hotel room in 2013.

She said he was a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure who could be charming in public but showed his dark side when they were alone.

Another one of Weinstein’s accusers, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, told jurors he raped her in her apartment one night in the mid-1990s.

  • Weinstein accuser: ‘No’ was a trigger for him

Her allegation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, but prosecutors used it in an attempt to demonstrate that the accused was a repeat sexual offender.

Following the verdict, Ms Sciorra said: “I spoke for myself and with the strength of the 80-plus victims of Harvey Weinstein in my heart.”

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Getty Images

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Jessica Mann (left) and Anabella Sciorra accused Weinstein of rape

Three other also women testified they were lured to apparent work meetings with Weinstein, then sexually assaulted.

What more reaction has there been?

Rose McGowan told the BBC’s Newshour programme: “The little girl I was when I was hurt, she’s ecstatic…This is a great day. The trash has been taken out.”

The actress, who was an early Weinstein accuser, added: “The fact that we are white women and attractive and of some means and it still took this many of us to even get him to have one day in court – just tells you…how almost impossible it is to even be heard, period, let alone [get] any kind of conviction.”

In a joint letter, actresses Ashley Judd, Lucia Evans and Rosanna Arquette and 19 other Weinstein accusers called it “disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve,” but expressed gratitude towards all the women who came forward to speak out against him.

Meanwhile, Ms Rotunno said that “the fight is not over”.

“Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man and he knows we will continue to fight for him and he knows that this is not over.”

Ms Rotunno said her client was disappointed, but “mentally tough”.

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Media captionHired by Weinstein to extract information on celebrities

What happens next?

  • Weinstein will be sentenced on 11 March
  • He still faces charges of rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles, and there are other cases under review, according to the county district attorney
  • Civil complaints against Weinstein continue to be fought
  • In December 2019, lawyers said they reached a tentative $25m (£19m) deal with some accusers



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