UK broadcasters must act now to tackle industry’s sexual harassment scourge: Bectu 

18 September 2023

Head of broadcasting union Bectu, Philippa Childs, has today written to UK broadcasters and the Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact), following allegations of rape and sexual assault levelled against comedian and presenter Russel Brand. Read the letter here.

In the letter, Childs called for a joint overhaul of employers’ internal processes for handling complaints of sexual harassment, undertaken in consultation with unions.

She signalled the development of the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority, a sector-wide initiative set up to improve and uphold standards of behaviour, as a critical development in giving workers increased confidence in raising concerns, and in leading independent investigations.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“These reports are deeply troubling and, along with a number of recent examples, are a stark reminder that sexual harassment remains a scourge on the creative sector. Reports that crew members had reported inappropriate workplace conduct many years ago are all the more concerning.

“In a sector where power imbalances are particularly extreme, it’s critical that victims can have confidence that their allegations will be taken seriously, investigated and dealt with swiftly, and perpetrators held to account.

“However, what we are seeing time and again is historical complaints and allegations coming to light, often regarding high-profile perpetrators acting in plain sight. It is clear that helplines and other measures that broadcasters frequently point to are woefully inadequate in dealing with complaints, particularly those levelled at people in positions of power. While we welcome the internal investigations launched by the BBC, Channel 4 and Banijay UK, current policies and procedures are clearly not fit for purpose.

“The need for an independent standards authority is clear and urgent. Broadcasters, production companies and studios must put their money where their mouth is and get behind the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority.

“How many more incidents must come to light before broadcasters commit to taking real and meaningful action? No-one, however senior or powerful, should be above proper scrutiny. Production companies and broadcasters must take a much more proactive, leading role in ensuring the sector is a safe, mentally healthy and respectful place to work for everyone, including freelancers and behind the scenes workers.”