First woman to lead Musicians Union says she received hundreds of testimonies of abuse

First woman to lead Musicians Union says she has received hundreds of complaints of sexual harassment and bullying from women in the music industry

  • Naomi Pohl has vowed to use her new position to fight abuse in the industry
  • She said she received alarming testimonials detailing widespread problems
  • Nadine Dorries plans to set up an independent regulator to deal with complaints

The Musicians’ Union’s first female general secretary in its 130-year history says she has received hundreds of reports from women claiming they have been sexually harassed or intimidated in the music industry.

Naomi Pohl has vowed to use her tenure to end the abuse, saying, “It’s a culture that needs to change.”

Ms Pohl, who was elected to the role earlier this month by the union’s 32,000 members, said she had received alarming testimonies from people across the industry.

Ms Pohl (right), who was elected to the post earlier this month by the union’s 32,000 members, said she had received alarming testimony from people in the industry

She told the Mail on Sunday: “I have received hundreds of reports from women who have been sexually harassed. It happens all over the industry – on tour buses, at festivals, in hotels, in orchestras This often happens when there is someone in a position of power, when there is someone who says they can make or break a career.

“It also often happens when a woman is reserved for something – the messages quickly change from reservation to sexual messages.

“So many work situations are informal – much of the music industry isn’t office-based.

“Women and people from minority groups have so far accepted it as part of the industry. It is a culture that must change. I feel like this has been talked about for a while, but we actually need to do something and make changes to keep women and other minority groups safe. We will put policies and procedures in place.

Last year The Mail on Sunday revealed how the music world was rocked by allegations of abusive conduct towards women by powerful men at some of Britain’s biggest record labels.

Ms Pohl, a graduate of Royal Holloway University, said she had been approached by women wanting to tell their story but had been hesitant “because there is a chance they could be sued for defamation”.

She will work with Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to set up an independent regulator to deal with complaints.

And she said one of her priorities was a campaign to protect the self-employed from sexual harassment and bullying. Ms Pohl was assistant general secretary under her predecessor, Horace Trubridge, and said she hoped being the first woman to lead the union, which was founded in 1893, would help others.

“As a woman, for female workers in the industry, I hope this gives them hope that things can change,” she added.

Last May, this newspaper reported how several women had come forward with heartbreaking allegations of abuse from music executives.

A well-respected female personality in the music industry even suggested last week that inappropriate behavior by men in leadership positions in the music industry was “endemic”.

We revealed how Rebecca Ferguson, a singer who rose to prominence on The X Factor in 2010, turned herself in to the Metropolitan Police last year to report allegations of harassment and coercive control against a senior male official at industry.

Meanwhile, singer Lily Allen is also set to use her upcoming album to name the men in the music industry who she says abused her.

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