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Musicians ‘face high levels of sexual harassment’

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Musicians like Rita Ora wore a white rose to the 2018 Grammys to protest against sexual harassment in the music industryImage copyright
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Musicians like Rita Ora wore a white rose to the 2018 Grammys to protest against sexual harassment in the music industry

Over the last 12 months, high-profile musicians such as Ryan Adams and Placido Domingo have faced accusations of sexual harassment.

Singers Lily Allen and Aluna Francis have also come forward with their own stories of abuse in the music industry.

And R Kelly and Michael Jackson have faced both new and historic allegations of abuse in major TV documentaries.

Now, armed with further case studies, the Musicians’ Union is calling for legislation to protect its members.

More than 350 people, predominantly women, have contacted the union, detailing cases of harassment, discrimination and abuse of power.

The complaints included rape and sexual abuse – but more than four in five (85%) of the victims did not report the incidents “because they think they won’t be listened to or they won’t be believed,” said Naomi Pohl, deputy general secretary at the Musicians’ Union.

One person, who asked to remain anonymous, said her complaint about being sexually harassed on tour had effectively been dismissed.

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Lily Allen says she told Warner Music UK an industry figure had sexually assaulted her

“I reported sexual harassment by a high-profile individual to a major employer in the industry,” she said. “I understand I was one of 10 women making reports about the same individual and yet no action was taken, as far as I’m aware.

“I was told this was just ‘lad culture’ by the person investigating my complaint. No wonder such a high proportion of issues go unreported.”

Her experience echoes that of Lily Allen, who recently told the BBC her record label had failed to act on accusations of sexual assault by an industry figure.

The Musicians’ Union said many artists affected by harassment end up leaving the industry while the perpetrators face little recrimination.

It asked its 30,000 members whether they had experienced discrimination or abuse at work. Of the 725 who responded, nearly half (48%) said they had.

“It ranges from things like a professional musician turning up for a gig and being given hot pants to wear, to backstage facilities that are only really designed for men, to abuse and rape,” said Pohl.

She added that harassment was rife in the music industry because it presented a “very informal working environment, with late nights and alcohol consumption at gigs” as well as “working one-on-one in a studio environment, and places with no windows”.

“Survivors are often unable to speak out because the consequences for their career or personal life are devastating,” said Pohl.

More than half of the surveyed musicians felt the culture of the industry was the greatest barrier to reporting abuse, with other factors including fear of losing work and expectations the issue would not be handled appropriately.

The Union says its members are particularly vulnerable because they tend to work on a freelance basis, meaning they have fewer protections than those in fixed employment.

It is calling on the government to extend the Equality Act’s provisions on discrimination and harassment so that they cover self-employed workers; and is asking the public to sign a petition calling for freelancers to be given “an equal level of protection to those in fixed employment”.

The focus of the petition, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss, has been contacted for comment.

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Queen reprise 22-minute Live Aid set at Fire Fight Australia concert

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Brian May of Queen performs during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert in Sydney, Australia, 16 February 2020Image copyright
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Brian May of Queen performs to thousands at the Fire Fight Australia concert in Sydney

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US singer Adam Lambert has joined Queen to reprise the band’s legendary 1985 Live Aid set for 75,000 people at a huge benefit concert in Sydney.

The 22-minute set was part of a 10-hour fundraising event organised to raise A$10m (£5.15m; $6.71m) for communities devastated by bushfires.

“As Aussies we bear together… because it turns out the people at the top don’t,” the host Celeste Barber said.

Recent fires have killed at least 33 people, destroying thousands of homes.

In New South Wales, the worst-hit state, heavy rains have brought blazes under control. But in the last few months more than 11 million hectares of land – an area comparable to the size of England – has been affected across all of Australia’s states and territories.

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Olivia Newton-John, 71, performed with Australian singer Mitch TamboImage copyright
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Olivia Newton-John, 71, performed with Australian singer Mitch Tambo

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On Sunday, Olivia Newton-John and Alice Cooper joined local stars 5 Seconds of Summer, Tina Arena and Delta Goodrem for the Fire Fight Australia gig.

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Queen and Adam Lambert perform at the Fire Fight Australia, a concert for National Bushfire Relief in Sydney, 16 February 2020Image copyright
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Adam Lambert took the place of the late Freddie Mercury for the 22-minute set

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Joining Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor on stage, Lambert filled in for the late Freddie Mercury as the band performed hits such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.

  • How much rain did it take to put out the NSW fires?
  • ‘Urgent help’ needed for 113 species after fires

Lambert, a former American Idol contestant who has previously toured with Queen, said it was a “real honour” to perform the band’s full Live Aid set for the victims of Australia’s bushfires.

The set at the 1985 fundraising concert at London’s Wembley Stadium for famine relief is seen as one of the greatest performances by any rock band. It was recreated for the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody.

Australian singer Guy Sebastian performs during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concertImage copyright
EPA

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Australian singer Guy Sebastian was one of dozens of performers supporting the fundraiser

Australia has always had a fire season, with naturally occurring blazes sparked during the dry summer, but this year’s has been unprecedented in the scale and intensity of the fires.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has come in for harsh criticism for its response to the disaster.

Australian singer Delta Goodrem performsImage copyright
EPA

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Australian singer Delta Goodrem took to the stage with the Australian National Flag

Host Celeste BarberImage copyright
EPA

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Actor Celeste Barber kicked off a Facebook fundraising campaign in January that has netted more than A$50m

Profits from the event will be passed on to rural fire services, communities affected by bushfires and animal welfare groups.

  • A visual guide to Australia’s bushfire crisis
  • Bushfires bring ‘apocalypse’ to Kangaroo Island

People attend the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concertImage copyright
EPA

Among those attending was Dalene George, a teacher from Bateman’s Bay, who told Reuters news agency: “[I want to be] part of the people who helped to try and bring things back together and bring smiles. Yeah be part of that healing stuff that happens with community.”

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Media captionClimbing trees to save Kangaroo Island’s koalas

Another concert-goer, bank worker Karen Adams, said: “We’re in Sydney so we couldn’t even get down there to help, which was heartbreaking. And I work in a bank and so many families have lost everything so we’re here to support them all.”

Crowds at the concertImage copyright
AFP

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Caroline Flack: Love Island episode taken off air after ex-host’s death

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Flack with Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer on Love IslandImage copyright
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Flack with 2018 Love Island winners Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer

ITV have pulled Saturday’s edition of Love Island following the death of the show’s former host Caroline Flack.

An episode of unseen bits from the week in the villa was due to have been aired at 21:00 GMT.

Flack’s death shocked fans on Saturday. It came two months after she was replaced as host of the show after being charged with assault.

An ITV statement said: “Everybody at Love Island and ITV is shocked and saddened by this desperately sad news.”

It continued: “Caroline was a much loved member of the Love Island team and our sincere thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends.”

ITV2’s programme announcer said: “In light of today’s sad news we’re replacing tonight’s episode of Love Island: Unseen Bits with a double bill of You’ve Been Framed.”

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Media captionCaroline Flack won a British Academy Television Award for Love Island in 2018

Love Island’s first winter series, which is being filmed in South Africa, is due to end on Sunday, 23 February.

  • TV presenter Caroline Flack dies at 40
  • Looking back at Caroline Flack’s career

Meanwhile, Channel 4 said its series The Surjury, which was to have been hosted by Flack, will not air.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: “We are shocked and saddened to hear the tragic news about Caroline Flack. Our deepest sympathies go out to Caroline’s family and friends.

“Under the circumstances, we have decided not to broadcast The Surjury.”

When the show was announced in October, the channel said it would feature a 12-strong jury of the public who would decide if people got the cosmetic surgery they dreamed of.

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Caroline Flack’s career highlights in pictures

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Strictly Come Dancing

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Flack dazzled on the dance floor with Pasha Kovalev when they won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014

TV presenter Caroline Flack, who has died at the age of 40, starred on some of Britain’s biggest television shows.

Here is a selection of photos that capture her career highlights.

TMi

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She got an early break alongside Sam and Mark on BBC children’s show TMi, which launched in 2006

On TMi in 2007

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Flack stayed on the Saturday morning favourite for three series before moving on

Wheels

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She teamed up with professional wheelchair dancer James O’Shea for Dancing on Wheels in 2010, with the pair going on to win the BBC Three contest

With Joe Swash on Let's Dance for... Comic Relief 2011

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She took part in Let’s Dance for… Comic Relief with Joe Swash in 2011. The pair also presented I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here Now!

Caroline Flack and Olly Murs filming The Xtra FactorImage copyright
ITV/Shutterstock

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With singer Olly Murs, Flack hosted The X Factor spin-off show The Xtra Factor from 2011 before the pair were promoted to present the main series in 2015

Love IslandImage copyright
ITV/Shutterstock

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When Love Island began in its current format in 2015, Flack was there to match up the scantily-clad singletons

Fashion For ReliefImage copyright
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She walked the catwalk during the Fashion for Relief charity fashion show, which was hosted by Naomi Campbell for the Ebola crisis in Africa in 2017

Caroline Flack at the Bafta Awards 2018Image copyright
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Flack got her hands on a Bafta Award in 2018 when Love Island was named best reality show

Caroline Flack at the Brit Awards 2018Image copyright
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She was a fixture on other red carpets, such as at the Brit Awards in 2018

Love IslandImage copyright
ITV/Shutterstock

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She helped Love Island become one of the most popular British TV shows of the decade

TRICImage copyright
PA Media

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It won a string of prizes, such as the TRIC Award for best reality programme, which she collected with contestant Amber Davies in 2018

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