Posts Tagged ‘sexual harassment’

British PM hit by new scandal over minister’s Israel meetings

November 8, 2017


© AFP/File / by Alice RITCHIE | Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May has struggled to keep her ministers in line since losing her parliamentary majority in a snap June election

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s aid minister faced the sack Wednesday over unauthorised meetings in Israel, as she became the latest cabinet member caught up in a whirlwind of scandals rocking Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

May summoned International Development Secretary Priti Patel back from a trip to Africa to explain her talks with Israeli politicians, in which she reportedly raised the possibility of Britain diverting aid to the Israeli army.

Patel had apologised on Monday for holding 12 separate meetings — including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — during a family holiday to Israel in August, without notifying the Foreign Office or Downing Street in advance.

 Image result for Priti Patel, photos
International Development Secretary Priti Patel

After a public reprimand from the prime minister, Patel left London on Tuesday on a three-day trip to Uganda, but a government source told AFP she was returning home Wednesday at May’s request.

If she is sacked, Patel would become the second cabinet minister in a week to leave May’s government, after Michael Fallon quit as defence secretary on November 1 following allegations of sexual harassment.

Britain is facing its biggest peacetime challenge in Brexit, but May has struggled to keep her ministers in line since losing her parliamentary majority in a snap June election.

Months of public divisions over the negotiations with the EU have in recent days given way to scandals over foreign affairs and sexual abuse.

May’s deputy Damian Green is being investigated for groping a journalist in 2014 — which he denies — while a similar probe is underway into the behaviour of junior trade minister Mark Garnier towards his secretary.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has meanwhile been accused of jeopardising the case of a British woman jailed in Iran, after appearing to suggest she was training journalists at the time — something her family strongly denies.

May put off a mooted reshuffle after her election setback, but some MPs have called on her to act to assert her power over a government that looks increasingly adrift.

– Funding to Golan Heights –

On Monday, Patel revealed details of her meetings in Israel, which included with NGOs and businesses, and said they were arranged by Lord Stuart Polak, the honorary president of lobbying group Conservative Friends of Israel.

But it emerged late Tuesday there had been another two unauthorised meetings in September, with Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in London and senior foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York.

“I don’t understand what more she needs to do to be sacked,” one unnamed minister told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

During her meetings, Patel discussed the possibility of British aid being used to support medical assistance for Syrian refugees arriving in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Downing Street said.

Reports suggest however that she did not explain to May that this involved supplying funding to the Israeli army, which has facilitated the treatment of more than 3,100 wounded refugees in Israeli hospitals since 2013.

Britain views the Golan Heights as occupied territory and a minister told MPs on Tuesday that funding the Israeli Defence Forces there was “not appropriate”.

In a further development on Wednesday, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Patel visited a military field hospital in the Golan Heights as a guest of the government.

Patel’s ministry declined to comment on the report.

– Breach of ministerial code –

Patel was a leading campaigner for Britain to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum, and is a prominent figure in May’s cabinet.

The daughter of Ugandan Indians, the 45-year-old has been an MP since 2010, and is widely believed to have ambitions on Downing Street.

On Monday, she apologised that her “enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures”.

But the main opposition Labour party has demanded an investigation into whether her behaviour breached the ministerial code.

Shadow minister Jon Trickett said May should explain why “she believes that Priti Patel can stay in post”.

The Palestinian ambassador to Britain, Manuel Hassassian, said the revelations were “shocking”.

“If a cabinet minister goes along and says she wants to funnel money to the IDF, and to funnel money to occupied Golan Heights, this is in total contradiction of the main policies of this government that is pushing for a two-state solution,” he told ITV news on Tuesday.

by Alice RITCHIE
See also:
Priti Patel’s allies turn on Theresa May over deepening Israeli meetings row as minister faces the sack
UK aid minister Priti Patel under fire over unauthorized Israel meetings

Spacey hit by new sexual harassment allegations in UK

November 2, 2017


© AFP/File / by Robin MILLARD | Kevin Spacey has become embroiled in Hollywood’s widening sexual misconduct scandal

LONDON (AFP) – Kevin Spacey faced fresh allegations of sexual harassment in Britain on Thursday, with an ex-employee accusing his old theatre of turning a blind eye to the Hollywood star’s misconduct.Former workers at The Old Vic, where the US actor ruled the roost as its artistic director from 2003 to 2015, told The Guardian newspaper that the London theatre ignored allegations of groping and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

“We were all involved in keeping it quiet. I witnessed him groping men many times in all sorts of different situations,” one said, on condition of anonymity.

The two-time Oscar winner “was taking advantage of the fact that he is this great icon.

“He touched men on the crotch. Doing it really fast so they couldn’t get out of the way.

“The thing that really upsets me is the hypocrisy of places like The Old Vic that pretend now that they didn’t know.”

Rebecca Gooden, an intern at the theatre in 2010, said there were regular stories about Spacey’s behaviour.

She told The Guardian it was a “running joke” that “pretty” young men were not hired to work in theatre administration.

“I was informed that I was not allowed to talk about it outside the theatre. I am honestly sickened that the theatre has chosen to plead ignorance,” she said.

Spacey became embroiled in Hollywood’s widening sexual misconduct scandal when he apologised this week over accusations he made a sexual advance on a 14-year-old actor in the 1980s.

– Confidential email address –

The Old Vic said it was “not currently in a position to comment on specifics of what may have taken place in the past”.

The theatre said it had set up an email address where “anyone who has concerns about the inappropriate behaviour of Kevin Spacey at The Old Vic” could come forward.

“Since we set up this confidential line of communication, we are already seeing the great benefits of the new policy of openness and the safe sharing of information,” a spokeswoman told AFP.

“We stand by, support and strongly encourage the industry-wide culture shift that is under way.”

Spacey, 58, found himself in the spotlight when Anthony Rapp accused the star of making a “sexual advance” when he was 14 and Spacey was 26.

Mexican actor Roberto Cavazos then accused Spacey of sexual harassment, saying he fended off two “unpleasant” advances that “bordered on harassment” while at The Old Vic, but that others were afraid to do so.

Film-maker Tony Montana also alleged Spacey grabbed his crotch in a Los Angeles bar in 2003.

On Tuesday, British barman Daniel Beal accused Spacey of exposing himself in front of him and then giving him an expensive watch to keep quiet, according to The Sun newspaper.

Then on Wednesday, a US man who was not identified, told BBC television that when he was 17, he had been invited to stay at Spacey’s New York home and the actor asked him to sleep in his bed.

He slept on the sofa but woke up with Spacey’s arms around him.

Spacey said he could not remember the alleged encounter with Rapp but apologised, saying he was “beyond horrified”.

by Robin MILLARD

Michael Fallon, U.K. Defense Secretary, Quits Over Inappropriate Conduct — Amid UK government sexual harassment scandal

November 2, 2017

Michael Fallon in January. Saying he had “fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces,” he stepped down as defense secretary on Wednesday. Credit Peter Nicholls/Reuters

LONDON — Britain’s defense secretary, Michael Fallon, has resigned over allegations about his past conduct, amid a growing outcry over claims of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior by British politicians.

Mr. Fallon’s departure from his ministerial post was announced by the office of Prime Minister Theresa May, who released a formal letter of resignation on Wednesday night.

“A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct,” wrote Mr. Fallon, referring to members of Parliament.

“Many of these have been false but I accept in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed Forces that I have the honor to represent,” he said, adding that he had “reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as Defense Secretary.”

In response Mrs. May said she appreciated the “characteristically serious manner” in which Mr. Fallon had considered his position and paid tribute to “a long and impressive ministerial career — serving in four departments of State under four prime ministers.” Mr. Fallon had served as defense secretary since July 2014 and has not resigned his seat as a lawmaker.

Earlier this week he admitted that he had put his hand on the knee of a female journalist, Julia Hartley-Brewer, in 2002. She has accepted his apology, and made light of the incident in recent days, posting a picture of her knees on Twitter, and writing that they were still intact.

On Wednesday night Ms. Hartley-Brewer reacted with surprise at the resignation, but added, “I doubt that my knee was the reason.”

Some British political journalists, including ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston, reported that Mr. Fallon may have quit because he feared that other, similar accusations might come to light.

Read the rest:

New Spacey accusations fly as Netflix suspends his show — Secrets in life can really make for a “House of Cards”

November 1, 2017


A Mexican actor became the latest to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual harassment Tuesday, predicting more such claims would emerge as Netflix suspended production of the two-time Oscar winner’s hit series “House of Cards.”

Roberto Cavazos, who acted in several plays at London’s Old Vic theater when Spacey was artistic director there from 2004 to 2015, said the Hollywood star routinely preyed on young male actors.

“It seems the only requirement was to be a male under the age of 30 for Mr Spacey to feel free to touch us,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

 Image result for Kevin Spacey, photos
Reuters photo

The accusation echoed the claim made Sunday by American actor Anthony Rapp, who said Spacey made a “sexual advance” on him at a party in 1986, when he was 14 and Spacey was 26.

Responding to the allegation — and the outraged backlash in its wake — streaming giant Netflix announced it has suspended production of the sixth season of “House of Cards,” the award-winning political drama starring Spacey.

The suspension was “until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew,” said Netflix and producer Media Rights Capital.

Season six, which Netflix had already confirmed on Monday would be the final edition of its flagship production, had been scheduled to air in 2018. It is not yet known whether this will change.

On Monday, Netflix and MRC said they were “deeply troubled” by the allegations.

Spacey, 58, came under a torrent of criticism over the claims and for appearing to deflect the story by finally confirming that he is gay — an open secret in Hollywood for years.

– ‘Lots more Spacey stories’ –

As reports emerged that Spacey could face other accusers, Cavazos said he and Rapp were far from alone.

“Those of us who crossed paths with (Spacey) in London when he was director of the Old Vic know a whole lot more people will find the courage to tell their stories in the coming days and weeks,” he wrote, in allegations first posted to Facebook on Monday and repeated Tuesday on Twitter.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were similar numbers to Weinstein’s,” he added, referring to the dozens of women who have accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment, unleashing a torrent of similar accusations against a growing list of rich and powerful men.

“There are a lot of us who have a ‘Kevin Spacey story’.”

Cavazos is a stage and screen actor whose credits include the films “Rush” and “El Beso” and a guest appearance on the British TV series “Doctor Who.”

He said he fended off two “unpleasant” advances from Spacey that “bordered on harassment.”

“If I had been a woman, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about calling it that,” he said.

He said Spacey would regularly invite young male actors to “talk about their careers” and surprise them with a champagne picnic where he would make an advance.

“More commonly, he could be found in the theater bar, pressing up against whoever caught his eye. That’s how it was with me the second time. I never gave in, but I know some people who were too scared to stop him,” he said.

Earlier, the Old Vic said it was “deeply dismayed” by Rapp’s allegations and encouraged anyone connected to the institution with stories of abuse to contact the theater via a confidential email address.

Rapp and Cavazos both said they felt compelled to speak out after the recent accusations against Weinstein sparked an examination of abuses committed by powerful men in entertainment and other industries.

by Jennie MATTHEW, with Jean Luis ARCE in Mexico City

UK Parliament sex scandal: Woman who worked for MP reported sexual assault four times but was ‘ignored by Parliament authorities’

October 31, 2017

A growing parliamentary sexual misconduct scandal looks set to engulf Westminster

By Joe Watts Political Editor
The Independent


Theresa May is under pressure to sack minister Mark Garnier amid the brewing scandal Getty Images

The Westminster sexual harassment scandal has deepened after it was claimed authorities in Parliament failed to deal with an assault allegation made by a woman working for an MP – despite her reporting it four times.

The female staffer who suffered the alleged sexual assault confided it to another MP, who on Monday exposed the situation during a House of Commons debate.

A different MP said instances of sexually inappropriate behaviour towards young workers had been disregarded by the authorities, while a senior backbencher claimed attempts to strengthen protections for Commons workers had been blocked by political parties.

Minister Mark Garnier, who has already admitted asking his secretary to buy sex toys and to referring to her as “sugar t*ts”, looked set to lose his job after Theresa May refused to say she had confidence in him.

Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said MPs risk losing their ministerial roles and losing the party whip as a consequence of harassment allegations, even if their behaviour falls significantly below “criminal activity”. Both Commons Speaker John Bercow and Ms Leadsom vowed to take further action, as a list of 36 Conservative MPs subject to allegations of bad behaviour was drawn up by staffers and leaked.

Liz Saville Roberts MP told colleagues: “A worker employed as staff of a Member in this House told me today that she reported being sexually assaulted to the proper authorities earlier this year, who did nothing. She is deeply disappointed and distrustful and she tells me that distrust is endemic. How can I assure her that her complaint will now be treated differently?”

The Plaid Cymru member later told The Independent the victim had been so incensed at the assault and lack of an adequate response, that she reported it to the authorities four times in the hope action would be taken.

In the end she was told to go to the police, but when she did the case was not taken further.

Ms Saville Roberts told The Independent: “You would expect this place to be setting an example and not lagging behind what is normal workplace practice anywhere else in the country.”

Ms Leadsom said in the chamber that she would personally listen to the woman’s allegation and deal with it herself, but the problem of inappropriate behaviour was also reported by others.

Labour Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah told of instances she had heard of that took place in the Sports and Social bar in the Palace of Westminster, a place where young staffers and MPs can regularly be found drinking in the evening.

She said : “When I complained recently to an officer of Parliament who had some responsibility in this area, that I knew a number of researchers, male and female, who had been made to feel deeply uncomfortable in the Sports and Social club here, by Members of Parliament, I was told that that happens in pubs all over the country.”

Jeremy Hunt says there will be an investigation into whether sex pest scandal behaviour has broken ministerial code

Other MPs claimed they had overheard colleagues making light of allegations that had been made while walking to the evening’s debate.

Sir Kevin Barron MP complained that the ability of the Committee on Standards, which he chairs, to tackle sexual misconduct had been clipped by the political parties. He told MPs that in March 2012 the committee, which takes on complaints about MPs’ behaviour, tried to give the commissioner that acts as the final arbiter more scope to investigate.

But he explained: “An amendment tabled by the three major parties’ parliamentary shop stewards, and supported by the frontbenches, was introduced to block this and therefore the Commission was left unable to look into these very important issues.”

European Parliament members protest against sexual harassment

It also emerged that later on, in 2014, senior Tory MPs blocked moves to give commons researchers and secretaries extra protection from sexual harassment.

The 1922 Committee of backbenchers mobilised against an attempt made by David Cameron to create a binding code of conduct that would have included a right for staff members to seek arbitration, amid fears it could lead to politically motivated complaints.

It came as a Cabinet Office investigation got under way into alleged misconduct by International Trade Minister Mr Garnier, with his position looking less than secure after Ms May’s official spokesman declined to confirm the Prime Minister has full confidence in him.

The Wyre Forest MP has insisted incidents in which he asked his secretary to buy sex toys and referred to her in sexually inappropriate language, did not amount to harassment, but were merely “high jinks”.

Under Secretary of State for International Trade Mark Garnier has admitted making his secretary sex toys and calling her ‘sugar t*ts’ (PA)

While the list of Tory MPs accused of misbehaviour was being circulated in Westminster, Labour members admitted that the problem was something that affected all parties.

Parliamentary authorities met on Monday evening to discuss calls from Ms May for action to tackle bad behaviour, with Mr Bercow backing change amid what he described as “disturbing” allegations of a “culture of sexual harassment”.

But he insisted that in the first instance it was for political parties to “live up to their responsibilities”, given that parliamentary staffers are employed by MPs rather than the Commons authorities.

Setting out details of her plan in the Chamber, with the Prime Minister by her side, Ms Leadsom said the recent spate of allegations against MPs showed current arrangements were “inadequate” and action was needed in “days rather than weeks”.

She stated that behaviour should be deemed inappropriate even if significantly below criminal activity. “If people are made to feel uncomfortable, that is not correct,” she told MPs in the debate called by ex-Labour frontbencher Harriet Harman. “In terms of the consequences for the perpetrators, I think I’ve also been perfectly clear that in the case of staff they could forfeit their jobs, in the case of Members of Parliament they could have the whip withdrawn and they could be fired from ministerial office.”

Among Ms Leadsom’s proposals are a new, more substantial independent helpline service to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and abuse at Westminster. There is also a proposed support team linked to the helpline, that should be able to recommend the onward referral of a case to ensure “appropriate investigation and action”, including being able to “strongly recommend” any criminal allegations are reported to the police.

There should also be specialised pastoral support available to anyone in distress as a consequence of their treatment in the workplace, said Ms Leadsom, along with a contractually binding grievance procedure for MPs and staff.

See also:

Westminster sex scandal could be worse than MPs’ expenses, Tories fear

Bob Weinstein Gets Emotional on “Depraved” Harvey

October 14, 2017
Getty Images
Bob Weinstein

The Weinstein Co. exec insists he had no idea about “the type of predator that he was” and is sickened by Harvey’s seeming lack of remorse. “I want him to get the justice that he deserves.”

For nearly 30 years, Bob Weinstein has lived in the shadow of his older brother Harvey Weinstein. While Harvey, 65, was the very public face of Miramax and then The Weinstein Company from Sundance to Cannes to Hollywood, palling around with stars and schmoozing Oscar voters, Bob, 62, has served on TWC’s board and tended to Dimension, their genre label, turning out movies like the Scream and Scary Movie franchises, that routinely made more money than all but Harvey’s biggest hits.

Now, in the wake of the dozens of allegations charging Harvey with three decades of sexual harassment, abuse and even rape, Harvey is out, fired from the company he co-founded with Bob in 2005. And Bob, thrust into an unaccustomed limelight, is forced to try to pick up the pieces amid the growing chaos. He insists that the company — which is expected to undergo a name change — can survive. But four of his fellow board members have resigned, and his COO David Glasser and other key members of his 150-employee staff have yet to commit to stay with the company. Amid widespread predictions that the Weinstein Co. will be forced to shut down or sell all or parts, he maintains, “There is a plan to come out on the other side.”

But right now, even as he struggles to right the company (of which he and Harvey both own about 20 percent each), he’s also coping with his own sense of shame and betrayal, expressing sympathy for Harvey’s victims while also questioning whether he should have done more in the face of Harvey’s alleged abusive behavior. Bob, who worked mostly in Los Angeles while Harvey presided over TWC’s New York offices, says he’s barely spoken to his brother over the past five years. “I could not take his cheating, his lying and also his attitude toward everyone,” he says. While he says he knew his brother was unfaithful to wife Georgina Chapman, Bob insists he had no idea about “the type of predator that he was” and is sickened by Harvey’s seeming lack of remorse. “I have a brother that’s indefensible and crazy,” says Bob, adding, “I want him to get the justice that he deserves.”

Amid the chaos and uncertain future at TWC, Bob agreed to a 45 minute phone interview with The Hollywood Reporter. During the talk, he often became emotional when discussing his brother and the company they co-founded. He refused to discuss certain specifics, such as the claim in The New York Times that he and the board were aware of Harvey’s settlements with women during Harvey’s most recent contract negotiation, or the fate of certain TWC movies, such as the year-end title The Current War. But he opened up on the personal aspect of the scandal and said he believed the motion picture Academy should expel his “sick and depraved” brother.

How do you assess what has happened?

I find myself in a waking nightmare. My brother has caused unconscionable suffering. As a father of three girls I say this with every bone in my body — I am heartbroken for the women that he has harmed. I’m a fighter. For my entire adult life, I fought for the films I want to see the light of day. I have fought for my employees, who have dedicated their lives to achieving the vision of this company that me and my brother founded. But I cannot fight what is indefensible.

The members of the board, including myself, did not know the extent of my brother’s actions. I know him on a personal level better than anyone. It’s hard to describe how I feel that he took out the emptiness inside of him in so many sick and depraved ways. It’s a sickness but not a sickness that is excusable. It’s a sickness that’s inexcusable. And I, as a brother, understood and was aware as a family member, that my brother needed help and that something was wrong.

I was also the object of a lot of his verbal abuse — at one time physical abuse. And I am not looking for one bit of sympathy from anyone. I do not put myself in the category at all of those women that he hurt. But it’s a complicated situation when it’s your brother doing the abusing to you as well. I saw it and I asked him to get help for many years. And that’s the truth. He avoided getting the help. We begged him.

This hurts, but I don’t feel an ounce of remorse coming from him, and that kills me too. When I heard his written, lame excuse… Not an excuse. When I heard his admission of feeling remorse for the victims and then him cavalierly, almost crazily saying he was going to go out and take on the NRA, it was so disturbing to me. It was utter insanity. My daughters all felt sick hearing this because we understood he felt nothing. I don’t feel he feels anything to this day. I don’t.

Steve Bannon; Harvey Weinstein


Harvey Weinstein and Steve Bannon: The Troubled Business Relationship Revealed

One question that is on everybody’s mind: He is your brother, how in the world did you not know this was going on? 

First of all, let me tell you something that people don’t know. For the last five years, I’ve probably talked to my brother ten times on any personal level. That’s the fracture that’s gone on. Since Dimension started, we ran two separate companies. So many of the people that he does business with — actors, actresses — I’ve never even met and they know it. I wanted to lead a separate existence. So we were leading two separate divisions.

I actually was quite aware that Harvey was philandering with every woman he could meet. I was sick and disgusted by his actions. But that’s the extent of what [I knew]. I said, “Harvey, you’re just cheating. Why do you constantly cheat?” I could see it. But I wasn’t in the room with him.

For me, I thought he was literally just going out there cheating in a pervasive way. It wasn’t like he even had a mistress. It was one after another and that I was aware of. But as far as being in a room and hearing the description in The New York Times? No way. No F-in way was I aware that that was the type of predator that he was. And the way he convinced people to do things? I thought they were all consensual situations.

I’ll tell you what I did know. Harvey was a bully, Harvey was arrogant, he treated people like shit all the time. That I knew. And I had to clean up for so many of his employee messes. People that came in crying to my office: “Your brother said this, that and the other.” And I’d feel sick about it.

Why did you tolerate his behavior?

Because it didn’t rise to a certain level. I would often counsel people and say, “You know what, you have a choice here. Leave. Leave, please leave.” I don’t know why some of them stayed. So I would just try to mend a broken fence. There is no mending this. This is not a broken fence. [But] I will not quit and leave the business that I built, rightfully so, and leave the films and filmmakers that I was involved in.

When you guys were negotiating Harvey’s 2015 employment contract…

That I’m not gonna [discuss]. I’m sorry, I’m not gonna be litigated in this article. There is an investigation going on, let that investigation take its course.

Do you think Harvey should be kicked out of the Academy?

Yes, I do. I was gonna actually write [to the Academy]. And I will do it. I am gonna write a note to them saying he definitely should be kicked out of the Academy.

You issued a statement earlier today saying that the company is not for sale despite reports that it could be shut down or its parts sold off. If it’s not for sale, what is the plan to salvage this company?

We are thinking about how to do that. We had an employee meeting the other day, all 180 of the employees. And me and [COO] David Glasser addressed them all. Talk about emotions cascading. These innocent people are hurt, so many of them not knowing anything about my brother’s behavior.

But I was touched because — and I did not know this was coming — they said, “We don’t want Harvey to have the last word on this company. We want to stay. We believe in the films, we believe in you, Bob, David Glasser, we believe in ourselves. And we definitely don’t want to let him win.” And that’s a part of the human story that nobody is hearing.

I know they’re saying “Shut this company down.” Well, they didn’t shut Fox News down, they didn’t shut NBC down. My brother is the one that should pay with everything. And I mean literally — whether it’s criminal or otherwise — I will be supportive of all of that. But I don’t think the people that are the employees of this company or the company itself should pay.

Harvey was the face of the company. That’s what he loves. It’s actually part of his whole thing, being famous. This brother is not that brother. This brother made just as much money, ran a successful division, more successful financially than Harvey’s. But I’m a different guy and I run it differently and people know it and they know I can be successful and we don’t need to do any of the Harvey stuff. And there is a plan. All I’m trying to do right now is go forward, figure out a plan, me and David Glasser and the board members have an idea of what we’d like to do, that we think would be the responsible thing to do for all the critics, rightfully so, with regards to the TWC side and yet for people to keep their jobs. And the pieces of the business that still can be resurrected and continue, we think that they should.

Michael Moore


Michael Moore Slams Weinstein Over Alleged Behavior, Calls for a “World Without Harveys”

Do you have a new name for the company?

We’re coming up with one. And it won’t be familial, I promise you that.

Any effort to keep the company going will depend on financial backing. Aren’t the finances of this company in trouble?

We have good enough finances, the banks gave us their support today.

What does that mean?

With scandal, sometimes people can just say “We don’t want to be associated.” They’re supporting us. And in terms of surviving, we have enough good product and things on our slate. We are moving quickly, and there are people interested in participating financially on the condition, rightfully so, that Harvey Weinstein is out for good.

But you have people like Lin-Manuel Miranda trying to get In the Heights extricated from the company. You have Disney dropping you guys from producing Artemis Fowl. Apple and Amazon have scrapped big TV projects. Collaborators are turning their backs on you. How do you survive that?

We will, is my answer, and there are a lot of things in process with regards to a lot of those kinds of things that will get resolved in an amicable way and a good financial way. I really don’t want to get into the particulars of any one situation. All I can say is that there is a plan to come out on the other side. And also the other side that makes the public rightfully feel happy that what Harvey stood for exists no longer. The public deserves that. The victims deserve that. Everybody deserves that.

Those bankers, they look at my slate and they know that I’ve made them money for many, many years. And lately I have had a cold hand, there is no two ways about it, on the Dimension side, but I have a fuckin’ great slate coming up and they’re aware of it. And this is a business where all the sudden you walk into Stephen King’s It one day. And things change. It is that kind of business. I have Six Billion Dollar Man, I’m closing a deal on it. I have Paddington 2, Paddington 3 is coming two years later. I’m back in the wheelhouse of what I’ve done.

And when I’m back on, there is money to be made, there’s jobs to be had. Harvey knew how to take credit, win his awards. But for me, there are no Academy Awards. Bob’s not going to the Golden Globes or the Oscars unless somebody invites me.

Weiner, left, and Russell


David O. Russell’s $160M TWC-Produced Drama Dead at Amazon

There have been reports that Jay-Z might buy Harvey’s stake in the company…

I’d love nothing more than that, but as far as I know, that is not a fact.

There are predictions for a raft of civil litigation against the company and against Harvey personally. How can the company withstand that?

That’s for lawyers and people like that to go deal with. That’s what they do. And things end up getting resolved, they do. My hope is that the community will allow us the time to get it right for those that deserve to continue on. That’s all I can say and that’s what I’m trying to do. But it’s going take time. I cannot do it in a week.

Has anyone in Hollywood reached out to you with support?

Yes, they have. David Glasser had a meeting with David Hutkin, who is the CFO, and the banks have been supportive. They want to see us succeed and they see that there is a product line of many movies on my side. TV shows that have been done. That they say this company can still be viable. And there have been other people that have been supportive, other companies that are doing business with us, that are sticking by us.

What about the talent agencies? They are going to be key to any company going forward. Have they expressed support?

There have been men and women, actresses, actors, directors, but especially women I would say, who are so properly disgusted with my brother’s actions. Their attitude is when there is finally the entire divorce, when there’s the plan in place, when there is the separation in place…

I have a reputation that’s different than Harvey, obviously, and I work differently than him. And David Glasser is his own man. We have our own status in the industry. And they’re saying we will give the two of you a chance. You have to make the separation. [With] my brother having contractual financial rights in this company, the divorce is going to be as speedy as we can make it. It’s in process.

But Harvey’s going to fight his firing.

Anybody can do what they want to do. I cannot control other people’s actions. But he was fired by the board, okay? I was on that board. I fired him. He can fight. It will be a losing fight.

He may be fired but he still maintains his ownership interest in the company, correct?

That is correct and we are going to seek to sever that. It can’t be done that quickly. But I am on it 24/7 and so is David Glasser and so is the board of directors that remain and so are the shareholders. This is being dealt with.

Given your relationship with Harvey, there is a contingent out there who believe that you were responsible for the leak of this information, especially the internal HR memo that made it to The New York Times. Is that true?

That’s totally untrue. I could take a lie detector test on that. I didn’t and, you know, Harvey is suspicious of everybody. People that are liars — lying to his wife, to his children, to everyone — well, they have to turn around and say, “Who stabbed me?” It’s unbelievable that even to this moment he is more concerned with who sold him out. I don’t hear concern or contrition for the victims. And I want them to hear that. Harvey has no remorse whatsoever. I have spoken to him two times [since news broke], hoping to hear “Oh my God, what have I done?” I didn’t hear that.

What did you hear?

I heard a guy who still was fighting to get back and I was disgusted by it. Do you know how disgusted I am? I divorced my brother five years ago. Literally. And those that know me personally in this company understood how I could not take being around him on any level. And certainly my daughters and my family knew it. I could not take his cheating, his lying and also his attitude toward everyone. I had to divorce myself to survive. Nobody is perfect. I’m not perfect. If I made mistakes, I apologize to everyone for not standing up stronger and sooner. But if you want to take my head and the company’s and everybody else’s…. If I lose at the end of the day, then I lose it. But I’ll fight for what I believe is right. And I’ll apologize for my own lack of strength at times.

Do you believe that the 2015 incident with model Ambra Battilana and the NYPD investigation derailed the deal for ITV to acquire the company’s TV division?

Again, this is where I draw the line in terms of getting into a specific. I don’t want to comment on that kind of specific.

I’ll ask a general question then: do you believe that Harvey’s antics hurt the business in the past?

I’m being honest. I don’t know what hurt or didn’t. I haven’t had a relationship with him as a brother for many, many years. But I’m ashamed that he is my brother, to be honest, and I am ashamed that these are his actions. I’m not thinking at this moment about dissecting what may or may not have affected any past situation. I’m so in the here and now and feel sick.

Mira Sorvino came out and told her story [in The New Yorker]. I have been a personal friend of Mira for the last several years. We reconnected when I rented a house in Malibu. Mira, her husband and her kids have come over and spent many hours together with us. [But] she never told me. And now I literally was texting with her, and she said, “Are you mad at me?” And I said, “Mad at you? I’m so proud of you, but I feel sick that you had to hold that kind of thing in.”

[Harvey] should never be allowed back, ever. Ever. He lost his rights. He didn’t lose his rights to be rehabilitated as a human being. But as far as being in this town again? I mean, give me a break.

What do you think Harvey will do with the rest of his life?

He lived for this business and he lived for the outside [persona]. There were no insides to this, as far as I can see. So unless there becomes an inner person inside there, I have no idea what he’ll do.

Will you cooperate with any police investigation?

A hundred percent if it came to that. If I had anything to offer, I would. A hundred percent.

There have been stories that once, when Harvey got physical with you, he broke your nose?

He didn’t break my nose but he got physical and there were several people there, and he assaulted me. And I should’ve done something then.

Why did you not?

All I can tell you is it’s like asking any other victim why they didn’t stand up. I regret that beyond all measure. I live with that. That was a defining moment for me of cowardice on my own part. Not easy to live with. It doesn’t absolve me of my own cowardice, but this is the thing that happens, this is the nature of that whole syndrome. And it’s disgusting on every level. But hopefully, the more it’s talked about — I was happy when people started to come out. It made other people braver.

Well, you’ve had some anger issues in the past as well… 

Yes, but I’ve done my work. Without getting into details, I’ve done enough work, and I’ve faced my own self. There are those that do the work and those that don’t. I did it. I’m not that guy and that’s not the way I operate.

Any last thing you’d like the entertainment community to hear from you with regard to this situation?

I’m mortified and disgusted by my brother’s actions. And I am sick for the victims. And I feel for them. I feel for them.


Weinstein: It took a split second for me to glimpse the predator in him

October 13, 2017

By Allison Pearson

Am I the only woman who has been in a hotel room with Harvey Weinstein and not been invited into the bathroom to watch him take a shower? If so, I count myself lucky.

In girth and mien, Weinstein is most like Tony Soprano, the fictional TV mafia boss.

Imagine a toddler, complete with temper tantrums, inside a Baloo the Bear costume, but possessed of vast wealth and limitless power, and you get some idea of the monstrosity.

I suppose the only upside for any young actress who felt she had to meekly follow Harvey into the en suite is that, so vast and pendulous is the mogul’s belly, she wouldn’t be able to see his Indiana Jones.

I met Weinstein several times when his company, Miramax (later the Weinstein Company), was making a film of I Don’t Know How She Does It, my first novel.

I thought of it as a unique insight into what life must have been like at the court of Henry VIII, except the Tudor monarch did not share Harvey’s Diet Coke habit.

At the mention of their master’s name, Weinstein’s retinue jumped to attention in a manner that suggested dread rather than devotion.

“But I’m in my pyjamas, I’ve just done kids’ bedtime, it’s a school night and I’m about to go to sleep.”

“Enough with the excuses, serf. Harvey has commanded it and thou shalt obey!”

I was one of the little people and, therefore, by definition, could not be inconvenienced by a studio head to whom I owed undying gratitude and, almost certainly, a soapy back-rub.

I worked closely with two female producers in the Weinstein organisation and, whenever Harvey’s name came up, nothing would be said explicitly, but eyes would roll.

They talked about their boss as you would about a badly trained and incontinent dog. If you hadn’t been savaged by him, it was a good day.

I will never forget visiting the set of I Don’t Know How She Does It back in 2010. My PA, Catherine, a lovely young brunette, was with me and Harvey locked on to her like an Exocet missile.

“Who’s she, who’s that one?” he demanded, pointing like a child in a sweet shop. It took a split second for me to glimpse the predator in him.

Just look at that chilling picture of Harvey with Ashley Judd at a premiere only a few months after he propositioned the actress in his hotel room.

The Beast isn’t so much holding Beauty’s hand as clutching it to stop her running away.

“Not everybody knew,” Meryl Streep said after allegations of Weinstein paying off and silencing women who accused him of sexual harassment appeared in The New York Times.

Harvey, she insisted, had always been respectful towards her, although actresses such as Judd and Rose McGowan who had spoken out against him, were “heroes”.

One of the more disturbing allegations of the past few days is that, when a reporter was working on an expose about “Slimy Weiny”, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe called her directly to get her to drop the piece.

Damon’s publicist will be in full damage-limitation mode after a furious McGowan tweeted: “Hey @Mattdamon what’s it like to be a spineless profiteer who stays silent?”

Listen. Can you hear that moan and creak of ancient timbers? It’s the sound of tables turning.

Hollywood, which has been far too timid about calling out abuse of power, is now even more afraid of falling foul of sexual politics.

Weinstein was ridiculed when he said that he grew up in a time when “all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different”.

In a searing letter to executives at the Weinstein company, concerning a distraught young assistant who gave Harvey a massage when he was naked, Lauren O’Connor wrote: “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world-famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”

Well, not any more.

He will be remembered as an ugly man who made some beautiful films.

But, lest we forget, his behaviour and what he was allowed to get away with for so many years, is a microcosm of what women in workplaces everywhere have to put up with.

Weinstein on ‘indefinite leave’ during sexual harassment inquiry

October 7, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) — Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is on indefinite leave from the company he co-founded while an internal investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations against him is completed, The Weinstein Co.’s board of directors announced Friday.

“We strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein’s already announced decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Company, commencing today,” the board said in a statement. “As Harvey has said, it is important for him to get the professional help for the problems he has acknowledged. Next steps will depend on Harvey’s therapeutic process, the outcome of the board’s independent investigation and Harvey’s own personal decisions.”

The announcement came a day after The New York Times reported that the co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. has over the years reached at least eight legal settlements with women over alleged harassment.

Attorney John Kiernan of the firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP was named the head of the investigation. The Weinstein Co. board did not give a time frame for when the investigation would be completed.

“We believe it is important to learn the full truth regarding the article’s very serious accusations, in the interests of the Company, its shareholders and its employees,” the company said. The statement was signed by four board members: co-chairman Bob Weinstein, who is Harvey Weinstein’s brother, Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov and Richard Koenigsberg.

The statement was not signed by several businessmen who were part of The Weinstein Co. board before the story broke. They did not return messages seeking comment Friday.

Board member Dirk Ziff, a billionaire investor, resigned Thursday.

Representatives did not immediately respond to questions about Weinstein’s status with the film company. A person familiar with the board’s deliberations but unauthorized to speak publicly told The Associated Press earlier Friday that Weinstein would be suspended from the company. But Friday’s statement only said it “strongly endorsed” Weinstein’s decision to take the indefinite leave of absence.

Weinstein’s attorneys also did not respond to emails seeking comment Friday.

Weinstein has had a powerful perch in Hollywood for three decades, producing films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love,” for which he won an Oscar. But his stature has diminished in recent years and his company has suffered from a string of executive exits, layoffs mounting lawsuits and delayed releases.

The New York Times expose chronicled allegations against Weinstein from actress Ashley Judd and former employees at both the Weinstein Co. and Weinstein’s former company, Miramax, over the course of several decades. The report made an enormous impact felt throughout the movie industry and elsewhere.

“This abuse of power must be called out, however powerful the abuser, and we must publicly stand with those brave enough to come forward,” wrote actress America Ferrera on Twitter. Many others, including Lena Dunham and Brie Larson also added their voices to the uproar.

The board of directors has pressured Weinstein to step down from the company he helped create, said a person familiar with the board’s deliberations who was not authorized to speak publicly. Weinstein has resisted, hoping to weather the storm. Discussions between Weinstein and the board have been heated and contentious, the person said.

Leadership of The Weinstein Co. will be assumed by Bob Weinstein and David Glasser, the company’s chief operating officer.

Weinstein on Thursday issued a lengthy statement that acknowledged causing “a lot of pain.” He also asked for “a second chance.” But Weinstein and his lawyers, including Charles J. Harder, have criticized the New York Times’ report in statements and interviews, though neither has referenced anything specific.

“We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting,” said a New York Times spokesperson in a statement. “Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full.”

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Weinstein attorney Lisa Bloom both defended Weinstein and acknowledged he’d been “stupid.” She saluted the women who have come forward to allege wrongdoing but said many allegations were overblown and consisted of Weinstein telling a woman she “looked cute without my glasses.”

Congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, on Friday began giving charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from the disgraced Hollywood titan.

Weinstein and his family have given more than $1.4 million in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle, nearly all of it to Democratic lawmakers, candidates and their allies, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The biggest beneficiary of funds from Weinstein and his family was the Democratic National Committee, which received about $800,000 in several of its accounts, according to the center. Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said the party plans to give more than $30,000 to Emily’s List, Emerge America and Higher Heights.

Rutgers University says it will not return a $100,000 donation from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein for a position named after women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem.

The university said Friday that Weinstein’s donation was one of more than 425 that has been used to Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at the school.

The school says it can think of “no better use” of the donation than to apply it to the position and its work.


Associated Press writers Alan Fram in Washington and Jocelyn Noveck in New York contributed to this report.

The former news reporter said she remained silent due to Weinstein's tremendous clout in the media industry (Weinstein is pictured here on October 6, 2017)

The former news reporter said she remained silent due to Weinstein’s tremendous clout in the media industry (Weinstein is pictured here on October 6, 2017)

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Update: The Weinstein Company’s board is planning to investigate sexual harassment complaints against Harvey Weinstein as he takes a leave of absence. Find more coverage here.

Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview.

“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” Ms. Judd said she remembers thinking.

In 2014, Mr. Weinstein invited Emily Nestor, who had worked just one day as a temporary employee, to the same hotel and made another offer: If she accepted his sexual advances, he would boost her career, according to accounts she provided to colleagues who sent them to Weinstein Company executives. The following year, once again at the Peninsula, a female assistant said Mr. Weinstein badgered her into giving him a massage while he was naked, leaving her “crying and very distraught,” wrote a colleague, Lauren O’Connor, in a searing memo asserting sexual harassment and other misconduct by their boss.

“There is a toxic environment for women at this company,” Ms. O’Connor said in the letter, addressed to several executives at the company run by Mr. Weinstein.

Read the rest:

Women assaulted, bottles hurled at chaotic German town festival — sexual harassment and alcohol-fuelled weekend disturbances

July 17, 2017


© DPA/AFP | Matthias Klopfer (L), mayor of the southwestern German village of Schorndorf, and Aalen police president Roland Eisele give a press conference on July 17, 2017 in the city hall in Schorndorf to comment on disturbances at a local festival

BERLIN (AFP) – German police said Monday several assaults and cases of sexual harassment were reported in alcohol-fuelled weekend disturbances that saw youths rampage through a small town and hurl bottles at police.

No arrests had been made over the alleged harassment, but police were treating as a suspect a 20-year-old Iraqi man and, in a separate case in which a 17-year-old girl was groped, three Afghan asylum seekers aged 18-20.

Police chief Roland Eisele urged other women to come forward if they were abused on Friday or Saturday night during the chaotic scenes that started at a local festival in the southwestern town of Schorndorf, Baden-Wuerttemberg state.

Eisele said “the aggression and escalation of violence” were unprecedented and unexpected in the town of about 40,000 people, located near Stuttgart, and that the local police force had to request backup from other cities.

Police said in a statement that many youths “with migrant backgrounds” were seen in the crowd, but Eisele said that it was impossible to estimate a percentage.

Officers in riot gear moved into a crowd of about 1,000 Saturday night in the town centre to detain a suspect on charges of dangerous physical assault but came under attack as others hurled bottles at them.

Witnesses had reported small groups of youths, some armed with knives or replica handguns that can fire flares and teargas, roving through the medieval town centre, police said.

Several police cars were sprayed with graffiti or otherwise vandalised in the small town also dubbed “Daimler city” because automotive inventor Gottlieb Daimler was born there in 1834.

In a press conference Monday, Eisele evoked the chaos of Cologne’s infamous 2015 New Year’s Eve celebrations when men of North African and Middle Eastern appearance groped and assaulted hundreds of women, sparking widespread public outrage.

He stressed that the rowdy scenes in Schorndorf were less intense than those in Cologne or the riots in the northern port-city of Hamburg before and during the July 7-8 Group of 20 summit, when far-left and anarchist militants burnt street barricades and threw rocks from rooftops.

Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanickhas resigns after a group of investors pressured him to step down

June 21, 2017

He had been under pressure from the company’s investors

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick quit. Photo: Evan Agostini


Updated June 21, 2017 2:23 a.m. ET

Uber Technologies Inc.’s co-founder and Chief Executive Travis Kalanickhas resigned after a group of investors pressured him to step down following a bruising six months of scandal and setbacks, marking a stunning turnabout for one of Silicon Valley’s highest-flying startups.

Mr. Kalanick, 40 years old, handed in his resignation Tuesday, a spokesman said. Several investors pushed Mr. Kalanick to resign, the spokesman said, to help…



Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Quits as Investors Revolt Over Scandals


Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Quits Under Pressure From Investors

June 21, 2017, 1:30 AM EDT June 21, 2017, 2:24 AM EDT
  • As a founder, Kalanick is linked to Uber’s meteoric ascent
  • Recent scandals have exposed problems with its culture
Uber Says Chief Executive Travis Kalanick Has Resigned

Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick has resigned, capping a series of controversies that’ve rocked the world’s largest technology startup and exposed fundamental problems with its male-dominated culture.

The man most closely identified with the ride-hailing giant’s meteoric global ascent said he was ceding to investors’ wishes that he step aside, in part to avoid yet another conflict. Uber’s been dogged by drama this year, from allegations of sexual harassment to the use of software to bypass regulators.

The outgoing CEO joins a string of departures, including head of business Emil Michael and President Jeff Jones. Kalanick admitted his leadership failings after Bloomberg posted a video showing the executive arguing with an Uber driver, an incident that helped shore up resentment among its chauffeurs. His departure comes weeks after the death of his mother in a boating accident.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement. He will remain on the board of directors, Uber said separately.

Kalanick’s resignation was reported earlier by the New York Times.

As Uber’s public face, Kalanick has embodied the startup’s success. Earlier this month, he told staff of plans for a leave of absence, leaving the company to be run by a management committee.

This month, the company shared the recommendations of an investigation it commissioned into workplace culture problems by the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. More than 20 people were fired as part of a separate probe by another firm.

Despite recent turmoil, Uber’s business is growing. Revenue increased to $3.4 billion in the first quarter, while losses narrowed — though they remain substantial at $708 million. Kalanick remains a billionaire given his stake in the company, with a net worth of $6.7 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. Uber itself has been valued at $69 billion.

The company has sought to head off a defection of drivers by adding a function to its app that lets customers provide tips, a feature that has long been offered by main U.S. rival Lyft Inc. The company has also said it would start compensating drivers for trips canceled more than two minutes after booking and offer new insurance plans. Garrett Camp, an Uber founder and board member, wrote an email to employees Tuesday, trying to shore up morale.

“This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber,” Uber’s board of directors said in an emailed statement about Kalanick. “By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history.”


Travis Kalanick has stepped down as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing service that he helped found in 2009 and that he built into a transportation colossus, after a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company.

Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details were confidential.

Earlier Tuesday, five of Uber’s major investors demanded that the chief executive resign immediately. The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board.

The investors made their demand for Kalanick to step down in a letter delivered to the chief executive while he was in Chicago, said the people with knowledge of the situation.

In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward” and obtained by The New York Times, the investors wrote to Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership.

Kalanick, 40, consulted with at least one Uber board member, and after long discussions with some of the investors, he agreed to step down. He will remain on Uber’s board of directors.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement.

The move caps months of questions over the leadership of Uber, which has become a prime example of Silicon Valley startup culture gone awry. The company has been exposed this year as having a workplace culture that is rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, and has pushed the envelope in dealing with law enforcement and even partners.

That tone was set by Kalanick, who has aggressively turned the company into the world’s dominant ride-hailing service and up-ended the transportation industry around the globe.

Kalanick’s troubles began earlier this year after a former Uber engineer detailed what she said was sexual harassment at the company, opening the floodgates for more complaints and spurring internal investigations.

In addition, Uber has been dealing with an intellectual property lawsuit from Waymo, the self-driving car business that operates under Google’s parent company, and a federal inquiry into a software tool that Uber used to sidestep some law enforcement.

Ousting executives

Uber has been trying to move past its difficult history, which has grown inextricably tied to Kalanick. In recent months, Uber has fired more than 20 employees after an investigation into the company’s culture, embarked on major changes to professionalise its workplace, and is searching for new executives including a chief operating officer.

Kalanick last week said he would take an indefinite leave of absence from Uber, partly to work on himself and to grieve for his mother, who died last month in a boating accident. He said Uber’s day-to-day management would fall to a committee of more than 10 executives.

But the shareholder letter indicated that his taking time off was not enough for some investors who have pumped millions of dollars into the ride-hailing company, which has seen its valuation swell to nearly $US70 billion ($93 billion). For them, Kalanick had to go.

The five shareholders who demanded Kalanick’s resignation include some of the technology industry’s most prestigious venture capital firms, which invested in Uber at an early stage of the company’s life, as well as a mutual fund firm.

Apart from Benchmark, they are First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, which together own more than a quarter of Uber’s stock. Because some of the investors hold a type of stock that endows them with an outsize number of votes, they have about 40 percent of Uber’s voting power.

Leadership vacuum

Kalanick’s resignation opens questions of who may take over Uber, especially since the company has been so moulded in his image. And Kalanick will probably remain a presence there since he still retains control of a majority of Uber’s voting shares.

Taking a startup chief executive to task so publicly is relatively unusual in Silicon Valley, where investors often praise entrepreneurs and their aggressiveness, especially if their companies are growing fast. It is only when those startups are in a precarious position or are declining that shareholders move to protect their investment.

Uber has been valued at $US69 billion, making it the world’s most valuable private tech company. The company has raised more than $US11 billion from investors since its founding in 2009.

Uber’s investors also include TPG Capital, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, mutual fund giants like BlackRock and wealthy clients of firms like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

Despite recent turmoil, Uber’s business is growing. Revenue increased to $US3.4 billion in the first quarter, while losses narrowed – though they remain substantial at $US708 million.

New York Times, Bloomberg