Time’s Up UK has called on the British film and TV industry to establish an independent authority for dealing with sexual misconduct allegations following a growing #MeToo movement in the television business.
The charity, established in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has also called on intimacy coordinators to become mandatory on UK shoots. It comes after I May Destroy You creator Michaela Coel highlighted their work while accepting her BAFTA TV Award for best actress on Sunday.
Time’s Up UK chair Dame Heather Rabbatts teased the proposals in an interview with Deadline last week, in which she said there must be better standards for dealing with historical sexual misconduct complaints following the claims made by 20 women against Noel Clarke.
Time’s Up UK has worked with law firm Fieldfisher to draw up its plans for a sexual misconduct complaints body. It said such a unit should be empowered to:
- Offer a safe space for victims, both historic and current, to report matters and receive initial advice
- A body to refer complaints (anonymous or not) received by industry members
- Provide guidance to the sector when faced with allegations
- Mediate complaints, for companies and individuals
- Where judged appropriate, and in particular where a pattern of behavior emerges through reporting, the power to conduct confidential investigations
- Offer a framework that safeguards complainants, but which also ensures fairness and justice
- Publication of factual determinations and recommendations
Time’s Up said it plans to “convene a high-level summit with industry partners” to discuss the independent body. Rabbatts told Deadline last week that she has already held talks with the BFI and BAFTA about the idea, in a bid to tackle the “gray space” that exists when there is a lag between an inappropriate incident taking place and a complaint being lodged or made public.
In a statememt today, she added: “We have all recognised in recent weeks that we need to make a step change in the work of tackling harassment, abuse and bullying which builds on the work that so many have already put into place and action.
“The proposal for a new standards organisation will not only reinforce all the current guidance, it will be able to address many of these gaps in provision and bring together the whole sector with a unified and coherent response. It will also provide a clear framework for investigation which will enable both complainants and those alleged abusers to have a fair and just hearing conducted by skilled and experienced investigators.”
Coel was unequivocal about the importance of intimacy coaches after working on I May Destroy You with Ita O’Brien, an increasingly influential figure in the UK industry who has previously collaborated with Time’s Up on a compiling a ‘Guide to Working in Entertainment.’
Coel said: “Thank you for your existence in our industry; for making the space safe; for creating physical, emotional, and professional boundaries so that we can make work about exploitation, loss of respect, about abuse of power without being exploited or abused in the process.
“I know what it’s like to shoot without an intimacy director, the messy, embarrassing feeling for the crew, the internal devastation for the actor, your direction was essential to my show. And I believe essential for every production company that wants to make work exploring themes of consent.”