Rochdale row tests Starmer’s leadership, plus the woman who helped take down Weinstein | Crooked Media
Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets
February 15, 2024
Pod Save the UK
Rochdale row tests Starmer’s leadership, plus the woman who helped take down Weinstein

In This Episode

A week that was supposed to bring more woe for Rishi Sunak has turned into arguably the biggest test of Keir Starmer’s leadership. Labour has had to suspend two of its parliamentary candidates for making comments about Israel. For Starmer, who’s staked his reputation on ridding Labour of anti-semitism, it’s been hugely embarrassing. Nish and Coco reflect on the farcical situation in Rochdale, where Azhar Ali will appear as a Labour candidate on the by-election ballot in a couple of weeks, despite the party having removed its support for him. 

 

With the Horizon Post Office scandal having put the use of non-disclosure agreements back in the spotlight, we hear from a woman who has made it her mission to stop NDAs being used to silence victims. Zelda Perkins, a former assistant to Harvey Weinstein, tells Nish and Coco about the traumatic experience of signing her NDA, which she likens to “legal waterboarding”, and why she chose to break it to help expose the film producer’s crimes. On an optimistic note, she reveals how politicians from across the political divide are helping her to achieve change.

 

Wrexham FC owners Ryan Renolds and Rob McElhenney feature in heroes and villains, as do three councillors from Warwickshire County Council. Plus find out why Nish has ditched Coco on Valentine’s Day, and why they want your Jason Statham inspired film art. 

 

Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.

 

Contact us via email: PSUK@reducedlistening.co.uk 

WhatsApp: 07514 644 572 (UK) or + 44 7514 644 572

Insta: https://instagram.com/podsavetheuk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/podsavetheuk

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@podsavetheuk

Facebook: https://facebook.com/podsavetheuk

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/podsavetheworld

 

Guest:

Zelda Perkins, co-founder of Can’t Buy My Silence

 

Audio credits:

Sky News

parliamentlive.tv

‘She Said’, Annapurna Pictures, Plan B Entertainment and Universal Pictures

Warwickshire County Council

 

Useful links:
https://www.cantbuymysilence.com/

https://protect-advice.org.uk/

https://www.wbuk.org/

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

[AD]

 

Coco Khan Hi, this is Pod Save the UK.

 

Nish Kumar I’m Nish Kumar.

 

Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan.

 

Nish Kumar Byelections are on the agenda this week with both Labour and the Tories feeling the heat.

 

Coco Khan Will the Tories set a new postwar record for the most seats lost by a party in a single parliament?

 

Nish Kumar And why has Labour got itself into a mess in Rochdale?

 

Coco Khan Plus, we’ll be joined by Zelda Perkins, one of the women who helped take down Harvey Weinstein. She’ll tell us about her campaign to stop the use of NDAs to silence victims. Hi, Nish. So it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m all on my own in the studio. That’s nice, isn’t it? That’s a nice gift. Where were you?

 

Nish Kumar Coco? I am, in New York.

 

Speaker 4 New York City.

 

Nish Kumar In New York City, New York. I’ve been doing some standup here, so I have unceremoniously ditched you the other day.

 

Coco Khan Thank you. That’s nice. It’s a familiar feeling to me.

 

Speaker 4 So it’s. Yeah.

 

Coco Khan What are you doing for Valentine’s Day, by the way?

 

Nish Kumar We’re going out for, for lunch and for dinner. To, we might go to the Metrograph and watch Casablanca.

 

Speaker 4 Which is a.

 

Nish Kumar Little more in the on the Lower East Side.

 

Coco Khan How’s how’s the sound going down, by the way?

 

Nish Kumar The standup is going down very nicely. I’m also, I’m doing a solo hour of comedy. So UK listeners want to come along, at, Union Hall, on the 21st of February, at 10 p.m.. So and the tickets are available, and I’ll put the link up on all of my various social media feeds.

 

Coco Khan This is what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day, right? Check this out. I’m going to a feminist art exhibition.

 

Nish Kumar Fantastic.

 

Coco Khan What could be more romantic than a man coming with you to a place where you can observe 1970s posters saying that men are trash? I think is that’s real love. I think that’s going to be really good. We’re going to go to that, and then we’re going to watch, In the Mood for love, which I’ve never seen.

 

Nish Kumar Oh, in the mood for love this great. What a treat. Coco.

 

Coco Khan Well, you’ve really inspired me, actually, because I’ve been thinking that maybe I should physically go to the cinema more because we’re going to lose them otherwise. But also, maybe I should watch some good movies do that. I mean, like, I can’t just always watch Jason Statham all the time.

 

Nish Kumar You mean you’re broadening your horizons outwards from the Fast and Furious franchise?

 

Coco Khan May honestly, I have watch that trailer for The Beekeeper a good five times. I just love it. It’s so awful. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense at all.

 

Nish Kumar What I love about this is they’re slowly running out of jobs for Jason Statham to do in action films. We’ve reached a purest. We’ve reached a purest gold rogue. I genuinely think, like next time it’s going to have to be like The Stamp Collector.

 

Coco Khan That does sound like a real film, doesn’t it?

 

Nish Kumar The Stamp Collector? His enemies will be licked.

 

Coco Khan That’s quite good, actually. What about.

 

Nish Kumar Let’s put the call out to the listeners.

 

Coco Khan The Barber. A cut above the rest. No. That’s rubbish. Well.

 

Nish Kumar Unfortunately, Coco, what you’ve done is invented, sweetie. Told without the songs.

 

Coco Khan Okay. All right. What about the groomer? Oh, that sounds wrong. I was going to say the groomer. So you could say it’s a close shave. But actually, there’s too many offensive connotations for that.

 

Nish Kumar A film called The Groomer is about a pedophile. Okay.

 

Coco Khan Okay.

 

Nish Kumar I was about to say, if listeners want to make posters for these movies, that’d be great. But now you said the groomer. I don’t want listeners to make a fake movie poster for the Jason Statham filled the groomer.

 

Coco Khan Okay, okay. What about this? The comedian? He’ll get the last laugh again.

 

Nish Kumar I think you’ve invented the film Joker.

 

Coco Khan Okay. So basically what I’ve learned from this is that all the films are done. They’ve  all been done.

 

Nish Kumar What about this? This guy is a violinist who, only plays for children, and it’s called the Kiddy Fiddler.

 

Coco Khan Fucking nailed it. That’s. Yeah. That was great. Thank you.

 

Nish Kumar Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.

 

Coco Khan So great.

 

Nish Kumar This was supposed to be a bad week for the Conservative Party and for Rishi Sunak, and a gift for the Labour Party. The double whammy of bad economic news and two potential byelection defeats was expected to leave a wounded prime minister at the mercy of Tory plotters, and it may still play out that way. Although inflation defied predictions by staying unchanged, by the time you hear this, the latest GDP figures could mean that we’re officially in recession, and the Tories themselves are predicting that, despite having big majorities, both this week’s byelections in Wellingborough and Kingswood could be lost. But it’s not Sunak but Keir Starmer, who’s been feeling the heat so far this week, having to suspend two parliamentary candidates for comments they made about Israel.

 

Coco Khan Yes. So Westminster news this week has mostly been dominated by the fallout from comments made by Azhar Ali. That’s Labour’s candidate for the Rochdale byelection, which takes place in two weeks. The Mail on Sunday reported that Mr. Ali had claimed in a local party meeting last autumn that Israel had allowed the 7th of October attacks by Hamas as a pretext to invade Gaza. He issued an immediate apology and the Labour leadership seemed to be standing by him, with frontbenchers dispatched to defend him.

 

Nish Kumar By Monday night, though, the tide had turned. Following reporting of more of his comments in the Daily Mail. And Labour eventually withdrew its support for other Ali. He’s been suspended from the party pending an investigation, but he will still be listed as the Labour candidate on the ballot paper in Rochdale because under electoral law, it’s too late to replace him. Keir Starmer has said he’s taken a tough but necessary decision.

 

Clip And information came to light over the weekend in relation to the candidate. There was a fulsome apology. Further information came to light yesterday calling for decisive action, so I took decisive action. It is a huge thing to withdraw support for a Labour candidate during the course of a byelection. It’s a tough decision, a necessary decision. But when I say the Labour Party has changed under my leadership, I mean it.

 

Nish Kumar How are there any sense that damage limitation might have been successful? Lasted less than 24 hours. On Tuesday night, it emerged that more recordings from the same meeting, which was with a group of Labour councilors threatening to quit the party over its stance on Gaza, show Graham Jones, the Labour candidate for Hyndburn, using the words fucking Israel and saying British people who fight in the Israel Defense Forces should be locked up. Mr. Jones was immediately suspended by the party and is now facing an investigation. The Jewish Labour movement say it’s not been Labour’s finest hour. In what should have been a bad week for the Tories. Labour have somehow managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory, Coco.

 

Coco Khan I know I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tories call an election now. This is, like, as good as it’s going to get for them. You know what I mean? It’s been a disaster for Labour. So one of the things that I found quite interesting in terms of this story is, you know, there’s been this ongoing conversation about factionalism within the Labour Party, and people have pointed out that, you know, other MPs who did less were punished quicker. And as our ally is closer to the leadership’s closer in terms of his, political opinions, he’s also been a strong ally in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party. So why did it take Starmer so long? I think that is a question that does need to be answered at some point. Perhaps it won’t make a difference to the byelections, but I think for Labour voters, it might be a question that they want to understand. They want clarity over the policy, and they want to make sure that the party is running fairly.

 

Nish Kumar Yeah. Martin Ford, the KC, who was commissioned by Keir Starmer to investigate allegations of bullying, racism and sexism, has been very damning this week about the Labour Party’s handling of the Israeli case. He went as far as calling it shambolic. And he also said this on Radio Four’s Today program. One does have to question how such individuals are selected in the first place, and also the disparity in treatment, because one of the things that concerned us when we talked about weaponization was certainly the perception that antisemitism was a long factional line. If the Labour Party is serious about stamping out antisemitism, it can’t be a case that it’s only being tough on people it disagrees with. In other areas of politics. You know, the principle is the principle. It can’t be used to punish two separate factions of the Labour Party. I also think the other serious issue here is Keir Starmer is kind of staking his claim purely on competence. You know, we’ve seen rowing back on all sorts of pledges, the great investment, the 28 billion pound figure that’s been sort of essentially withdrawn by the party. And when all you’re offering is competence, you cannot afford slip ups like this. Starmer’s working on a bomb proof manifesto. There is a sense that he’s playing it safe politically, and he is following the idea that you never interrupt your enemy while they’re in the process of making a mistake. But if you’re offering people nothing other than competence, you have to be very.

 

Coco Khan Can comforted the me that my heart just goes out to the people of Rochdale right now on their ballot. They’ve got Azhar Ali suspended by the Labour Party, George Galloway, Workers Party of Britain, also a former Labour MP who was expelled from the party. Simon Dunne, TUC for reform, who was Rochdale’s Labour MP between 2010 and 2017 but was then suspended. I’m resigned after being found to have sent explicit messages to a 17 year old girl. Oh my God. I mean, what are these options? And to make matters more farcical. Last week, the Green Party candidate, Guy Otten, withdrew from the Rochdale race after the resurfacing of what he described as his regrettable social media remarks about the Islamic faith and about Gaza. And yet he too, will still be on the voting slip. Just as on a little closing note of grossness, journalist Michael Crick reported that the sewage pipes burst inside Labour’s Rochdale campaign office over the weekend. So Labour’s office literally was covered in shit, and I think that’s kind of poetic.

 

Nish Kumar Whoever it is that’s in charge of heavy handed metaphors is working overtime at the moment. A sewage pipe bursting over the Rochdale Labour Office is, I think, laying it on a bit thick.

 

Coco Khan Yeah. Do you know what I mean, like if it was a .

 

Nish Kumar We get it.

 

Coco Khan If it was a TV show, you’d be, like, too much. That’s far too much. So that Rochdale byelection is happening on February 29th. But by the time this podcast is out, voters will be going to the polls to choose new MPs in two other byelections in Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire and in Kingswood in South Gloucestershire. What’s happening in Rochdale is a lot and while Wellingborough isn’t quite fat, it’s really not far behind. The area’s former Tory MP, Peter Bone, was kicked out after being found to have indecently exposed himself to an aide. The candidate the Tories have chosen to defend his majority of over 18,000 is a local councilor called Helen Harrison, and she just happens to be Peter Bone’s partner. She’s claimed that the Commons standards panel, which, despite his denials, found Bowen guilty of the allegations that, well, they’d got it wrong. That’s her claim, I think. I think we, had them in for our villain of the week a little while ago, didn’t we?

 

Nish Kumar Yeah, we did indeed. Yeah. The byelection and Kingswood, by contrast, is a quieter affair. And it’s only happening because of the resignation of the area’s conservative MP, Chris Skidmore, a former government net zero. He quit as an MP over Rishi Sunak’s plan to allow more offshore oil and gas drilling, and his majority at the last election was over 11,000, so an 11.4% swing is needed for Labour to win. Now, if the Tories do lose the two byelections, it will set a new postwar record of the most seats have been lost by conservatives, a by elections during a single parliament. The numbers at the moment are they’ve currently lost seven and John Major lost eight between 1992 and 1997. So I mean, what’s astonishing about this is we’re talking about majorities of 18,011 thousand, and there’s been a huge amount of fatalism and downplaying of expectations from the Conservative Party. They haven’t been sending frontline ministers into the constituencies to try and drum up voters. And a senior Tory has told the Guardian the defeatism has set in with the party having descended into a death spiral. I mean, if if they do lose these two byelections, are we now in for another three weeks of the new Tories or whatever stupid group, the populist Tories or the frontline coup guy, Diet Coke drinking Tories, or, you know, the new Association of Conservatives for sensible, fair minded Britain. Are they all going to start trying to stop Rishi Sunak at the back? Are we in for another three weeks of plotting and stupid fucking named groups?

 

Coco Khan Well, let’s finish this section with one silver lining, which is that Kingswood could foreshadow a Portillo moment. Just want to tell the listeners what a Portillo moment is.

 

Nish Kumar Yeah. We should clarify for younger listeners.

 

Coco Khan I know because I had Musty, our produce, a he mentioned a Portillo moment. I had to go back and please don’t tell anyone, but I don’t know what he meant. What was that, Michael Portillo, conservative politician, much reviled by the general public. Weirdly, he’s sort of been slightly reformed now because he did documentaries on trains or whatever anyway, but he’s just a classic posh Tory guy. He lost his seat and everyone was like, cheered and that sort of sense of, you know, giving them a bloody nose. It’s become a Portillo moment.

 

Nish Kumar The televised footage of Michael Portillo, loser, you see, was an iconic piece of 90s British television.

 

Coco Khan Okay, but listen, we might be able to gazump it soon because apparently Kingswood is involved in some boundary changes. And so that will mean part of Kingswood will be merged into Jacob Rees-Mogg constituency. Now imagine that Kingswood goes, Labour goes red, and then a load of those Labour voters move into Jacob Rees-Mogg seat into his area. I mean, it could happen. We could see him lose his seat. I mean, that’s a moment, isn’t it?

 

Nish Kumar I mean, if Rees-Mogg loses his seat. I mean, that would be. That would be calls for a national holiday.

 

[AD]

 

Coco Khan The Horizon post Office scandal, which saw more than 900 subpostmasters wrongly prosecuted due to faulty software, has brought renewed attention to the use of non-disclosure agreements. The contracts, also called NDAs, were used by the Post Office to pay off and silence victims and hide the scale of the problems with the horizon IT system. Last week, Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake said subpostmasters who had signed an NDA should feel completely at liberty to discuss their situation with the authorities.

 

Nish Kumar Our guest this week, as someone who has been campaigning to stop NDAs from being used to hide harm or wrongdoing. Zelda Perkins worked as film producer Harvey Weinstein’s assistant at Miramax in the 1990s. Zelda’s decision to break her NDA in 2017 was instrumental in bringing down Weinstein, who in 2020 was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. It’s a pivotal moment in the MeToo movement, but the case also highlighted how NDAs are being used to silence victims.

 

Coco Khan Zelda Perkins, welcome to the show. Hello.

 

Zelda Perkins Hello.

 

Coco Khan Hi. So you’re the co-founder of the campaign group Can’t Buy My silence. What are the aims?

 

Zelda Perkins Really simple. We have two aims change legislation and change legal regulation and guidance around these vendors. Obviously, along with that, we’re trying to raise public awareness because they’re secret settlements and people aren’t aware. You know, you will have definitely signed some. Probably all of your production team will have signed one without even realizing. And the NDAs that cause harm are now really coming to light. And that’s been, you know, a bit of a slog because it’s not a very sexy subject, because I’ve been very much talking about law and changing law, rather than necessarily talking about the individuals that that use these agreements, like Weinstein or Epstein or Crispin Odey. ET cetera. ET cetera.

 

Coco Khan So, as we mentioned in our introduction, NDAs have been back in the news. Let’s hear exactly what the Post Office minister, Kevin Hollinrake, said in the Commons last week.

 

Clip The Post Office has said it is our position that no NDA should prevent somebody speaking to relevant individuals, including members of colleagues, of course. And it is the case, whatever, whatever part of our system and an NDA signed is, is very clear that none of us can ever prevent somebody from speaking out about a crime going to the police, for example, or other authorities, and then they cannot prevent somebody from doing that in any circumstance.

 

Coco Khan It was weird hearing him say, oh, an NDA can’t stop someone reporting a crime because you think, oh, well, of course not.

 

Zelda Perkins Yeah, that was a really juicy clip because that’s actually a real that’s the real nub of the problem. Because, you know, yes, an NDA shouldn’t be able to stop somebody from reporting a crime. Not everybody knows exactly what the parameters are around the crime, and they can’t find out if they’ve signed an NDA. The other thing is, is very key. He didn’t say that people can break their NDA is there. He said you can talk to the relevant people so you can make a protected disclosure to your MP or to the police. But he didn’t say you could break your NDA.

 

Nish Kumar But that’s pretty key, that’s such a key distinction, right?

 

Zelda Perkins Yeah. Massively key distinction in the same way as Dominic Raab has several Indias which which is in the public domain. And he was actually asked about this on the floor in the, in the House of Commons. And he said no, no, no, no, I don’t have any NDAs. I just have a standard confidentiality agreement. They are the same price.

 

Nish Kumar Oh, okay.

 

Zelda Perkins All that an NDA is is any form of agreement that has confidentiality provisions in it that stop you from discussing something that has happened to you. NDAs don’t necessarily have non-disclosure agreement written on top of them. Mine wasn’t didn’t have NDA written on it. I mean, there was a damages agreement. Was this, you know, it was a settlement agreement. Now, the majority of settlements that you see that have are hidden by by NDAs are not like mine. Mine was huge. And the reason why was huge was because in my naivety, at 25, which is when this happened, you know, I had no idea. I’d never even spoken to a lawyer in my life before. And I thought, if there is a huge amount of money on this agreement, it is showing it’s indicative of the crime. Why would you know Miramax or Harvey Weinstein pay these two girls 125,000 pounds? And we’re talking about back in the 90s, each for something that didn’t happen.

 

Nish Kumar You thought at the time it was almost an admission of guilt.

 

Zelda Perkins Totally, totally. And also to me, it was indicative of the crime. It was really important because our lawyers said to us, okay, you can’t go to court. I mean, you can go to court, but you’re not going to when your lives will be ruined if you go to court. And this is the reality. This is what happened to the post office workers. This is what happens when you sign in a case, you know, settlement and your your adviser will say, just sign it. Just take the money because. Hers. Otherwise, you know you’re going to not get as much money. You know, it’s too expensive to go through court. It’s too traumatic. You know, it is that that they think they’re helping? It’s not. The lawyers are bad. They think they’re helping. They think they’re offering a panacea they think is the solution. Part of the reason they think it’s a solution is because they don’t see what happens after someone has signed an NDA or, you know, often a lot of the people who come to us, in fact, the majority of them say that their experience of the negotiation process is more traumatizing than the actual initial misdemeanor. And then, you know, you end up signing this because you just want it to be over. You want your life to move on. You’re exhausted, emotionally exhausted, psychologically. You know, you’re not allowed to talk to anybody about what’s going on. You’re probably not allowed to talk to your families. You can’t explain what’s happening. You’re concerned about your finances. You know, it’s all point. All the guns are pointing at you to sign. All the pressure is on you. And so you’ll give in in the end. Generally, you know, most people do. And in fact, we have data that shows that 30% of people won’t even report now because they they anticipate being put through an NDA and they would prefer to keep their voice and try and work out the problem themselves.

 

Nish Kumar So just so that we clarify your specific background here, you were working for Harvey Weinstein. You experienced sexual harassment, but it was when a colleague told you that Weinstein had tried to rape her, that you decided to take the allegations to, the studio, to Miramax, and then both signed NDAs in exchange for financial damages. And what you’re talking about here is the pressure, as you say, you were 25, you know, and I think, was it your first job out of university?

 

Zelda Perkins Yeah, it was my it was my first job that I kind of got by mistake. And, you know, we didn’t even have the word sexual harassment. That was just normal workplace behavior. Yeah, we all know. Well, particularly us as women, that in the workplace there is always somebody when you start a job, some will say, well, don’t go in the photocopy room with Kev, you know.

 

Coco Khan Handsy Kev.

 

Zelda Perkins Handsy, Kev? And that was what it was like at Miramax in terms of of Harvey’s harassment behavior. What we were scared of is his anger.

 

Coco Khan Right.

 

Zelda Perkins With our NDA, I mean, we went I went directly to Weinstein when this happened to confront him and took my colleague out of the equation. But when I actually went and he denied it, but when I actually went to my senior to report what had happened, it was not escalated. She just said, get yourself a good lawyer.

 

Coco Khan Oh God

 

Zelda Perkins And so I presume that meant that we were going to get justice. We were going to go to court. It was going to be hell, but we were going to get justice. What I didn’t understand and what I was told immediately that I spoke to lawyers. And this is, again, what happens to the majority of people who go forward with a complaint or a grievance. They get told that there isn’t really there’s no point. You know, that they have no power. There’s no point in going up against the big guys now, women to be equal in the eyes of the law. And that obviously isn’t a quality when you are an employee and an employer.

 

Nish Kumar Just briefly, what was that pressure like? What sort of impact did that have on you personally?

 

Zelda Perkins It was catastrophic. I was 25. It was my first job. I was like, oh, I’ll just get another job. I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m doing the right thing. You know, in the movies, when you do the right thing, everything goes your way. That’s not what happened. I mean, the negotiation process itself was pretty horrifying because we were made to feel like we were the criminals for highlighting a potential rapist. We only were allowed to the law offices after sort of business hours, which is also quite weird and intimidating in the city. You know, two young girls, we had a young female, pregnant, solicitor. We were kept in a room with no windows. We weren’t allowed pen and paper. We were escorted to the loo. We weren’t offered refreshments. There was one occasion where we actually did an afternoon session where we were there from 12 until four. Then we were given an hour’s break where we went out and got a sandwich, and then we came back in at five in the afternoon, and we were there till five in the morning. You know, I mean, it was it’s like sort of legal waterboarding. I mean, it was it was terrifying. And this is not unusual. You put under a huge amount of time pressure. You’re told the deal will be off unless you agree now. So you don’t have much choice. You know, once we once we came to, to an agreement and I’d like to point out that our NDA had more, clauses in to try and stop Weinstein than we actually had ourselves.

 

Coco Khan Right.

 

Zelda Perkins You know, we thought we had we had done pretty well in terms of trying to stop his behavior, because that’s all we were trying to do. And that’s what most people who come forward with a grievance or whistleblower are doing. They’re trying to actually improve and look after that workplace, you know. And it’s a human right to work in a safe environment. Why whistleblowers or people who speak up are treated like criminals is, you know, is a major part of the problem going forward. Certainly for me, I mean, my career was over in the film industry, which I didn’t really understand until I went to a couple of job interviews, which I’m afraid were taken by men. Now, I just spent a month of my life fighting, you know. A really powerful, frightening man to try and try and stop a sexual predator. And then I had to sit there. With a man asking me really about my potential sexual relationship with Harvey and whether that was going to be a good thing if they employed me or a bad thing. And I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to be able to to go to him interviews because I would just, I would blow. Yeah. And I actually moved a friend offered me a job working with horses in South America, and I moved to Guatemala, and I stayed there for five years. And, you know, partly that was to do with the fact work was that I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t tell my friends why I’d left my job. I couldn’t tell my family why I’d left my job. I couldn’t explain to new employers why I’d left my job. And I was very visible at Miramax. I’d been working for Harvey for four and a half years. Is this sort of number one? You know, little protege? And, you know, this is, again, this is a it is what is repeated for everybody who signs these agreements, their experience, their life is treated as IP that’s taken away from them.

 

Coco Khan Yes.

 

Zelda Perkins You know, they can’t speak about their trauma. The impression that we left that lawyer’s office was very clear that if we spoke to the police or we spoke to a therapist or we spoke to the HMRC, or we spoke to anybody ever, and we weren’t allowed to speak to each other again, then we would be sued and end up probably going to prison because we wouldn’t have had the money to pay back.

 

Nish Kumar So then nearly 20 years, you sort of kept the NDA living with that on a day to day basis. But then in 2017, you were actually the first person to break the NDA with Weinstein. Why did you decide to do it then?

 

Zelda Perkins Well, I had broken it endlessly, actually. I mean, as you’ve probably already discovered, I’m not very good at not talking. That was why I like moved to Central America because I was like, this is a disaster. There’s no way I can stay in Europe or anywhere near America. And not like, get murdered by Weinstein.

 

Coco Khan Oh God.

 

Zelda Perkins So I need to stay where it doesn’t matter. No one had ever even heard of Weinstein. There wasn’t even a cinema in Guatemala then.

 

Coco Khan You telling the horses all about Miramax.

 

Zelda Perkins I told everybody.

 

Nish Kumar You can’t put. You can’t apply an NDA to a horse. You can’t do that.

 

Coco Khan You can’t

 

Zelda Perkins I did tell my friends. I did tell my family. I did tell people because I just felt it was so wrong. And I was like, if I tell the right people carefully who care about me won’t won’t use it against me. There’s somehow right will come out. And it sounds dramatic now. I was like, well, do you know what? I’ll take one for the team because this is so important that people understand not just about Harvey, but about the system. And everyone was jumping on the bandwagon because he was the perfect ogre and he is an ogre. But also everyone’s like, look at the horrible fat man. Look at the horrible fat man, you know, don’t look at me. That’s what all of Hollywood was doing. Don’t look at us. It’s all him.

 

Coco Khan Yeah. Of course.

 

Zelda Perkins Which is bullshit. They were all doing it. Everybody was doing it. Everyone’s doing it in finance. Everyone’s doing it everywhere. Where there’s power. Because they can. Because the law allows them to. Because they’ve got this fabulous get out of jail card. You can’t have that. You cannot have the law enabling harm.

 

Coco Khan Do you think there’s any fair example of where confidentiality agreements aren’t having a negative impact on the worker?

 

Zelda Perkins Sure. I mean, listen, NDAs and confidentiality has its place. Yeah. And I’m not denying that. And, you know, I think the legal sector initially tried to just say that I was, you know, trying to stop non-disclosure and confidentiality. NDAs came about, you know, in Silicon Valley and the tech industry to protect.

 

Coco Khan Oh, so you can’t tell anyone about the iPhone 56 that you see.

 

Zelda Perkins Yeah.

 

Coco Khan Right.

 

Zelda Perkins Oh, you can’t tell the recipe for Coca-Cola, right. Client confidentiality, various things like that. You know, they have a very valuable role, you know, in settlement agreements or damages agreements, if the victim does not want the subject to be spoken about, just in the same way that you can have anonymity as a victim of, you know, sexual abuse in law, you know, the victim can choose to have confidentiality if they so wish. What they can’t do well, I don’t think should be able to happen is that an alleged perpetrator can be protected.

 

Coco Khan Right.

 

Zelda Perkins Now firms because, you know, at the moment I’m trying to get businesses to sign up to a corporate pledge. We had a pledge with higher education, which actually to not use NDAs and not just around sexual harassment for discrimination and bullying as well, because this isn’t about sexual harassment, this is just about the abuse of power. And that pledge, within 18 months, we managed to get converted into legislation, which is huge. And we’re really excited about and I’m sort of trying to do the same thing with business, and I can’t. I’ve only got one company, one law firm so far to sign up to this pledge. And I’ve approached all the top broadcasters Amazon, Google. I mean, I’m in talks with a lot of them and and it’s go. But it’s amazing how difficult any of them are finding it to sign a voluntary, unenforceable pledge to say that they are not going to abuse their employees by using confidentiality to hide harm.

 

Nish Kumar I just want to pick up on something. You said that because we often talk, we talk to lots of people engaged in campaigning on this podcast. But I think it’s really important to highlight, actually, you’ve managed to convert it into some legislation. So can you just talk us through that process of taking it from a campaign into actually getting it made into law, and how has it been getting the politicians engaged with this?

 

Zelda Perkins Well, I had no knowledge. I think I’m woefully politically ignorant when I started this. And, you know, I broke my NDA and everyone was like, oh, this is terrible. Yes. Gosh, well done. Aren’t you brilliant? And I was like, okay, great. So what are you going to do about it? Well, Theresa may to give her her juice and I’m going to sort this out. Then weirdly, this kind of the thing with floppy hair, cocaine and like the whole country went to shit. And obviously, you know, this is an issue that he really wasn’t, wasn’t keen to, to, to back up. But I was very lucky because I gave evidence at to select committee inquiries. The chair of the Women and Equalities select committee at the time was, Maria miller, now Dame Maria miller, and somebody else who was on the, in the committee at the time was Jess Phillips. Now, I couldn’t have wished, really, for two more brilliant women to pick me up right at the beginning of this and be my allies. And they have both been phenomenal in different ways. And listen. I don’t care who gets this through. I don’t care whether it’s the Raving Loony Party. You know I will be their friend.

 

Coco Khan Yeah.

 

Zelda Perkins And both Maria and Jess. And then I also have a fantastic ally in Layla moran. And the Lib Dems have worked so hard on this because they feel passionately about it for lots of, you know, for lots of reasons, not just because of my story. Jess and I kind of came up and, you know, and her brilliant aide came up with this amendment for the higher education freedom of speech bill on the back of an envelope on a Sunday night because Jess rang me and was like, oh my God, this is about to go, go through. We should put something on in on this.

 

Coco Khan I think it’s also worth mentioning, just to our listeners that Maria miller is a conservative and Jess Phillips is Labour. So we’re talking about cross-party colLabouration.

 

Zelda Perkins Yeah, this is real cross party in all three of them. All three of them were fighting for this, you know, independently and together, you know, and it really shows. And I have to say, I’m afraid the majority of MPs who have been great allies are women. They understand, I think, because women do tend to be ones who are silenced. More so this amendment was, was was a Labour amendment. It then came, you know, through for its final, vote in the House of Commons after being through the Lords and was voted through by the government. And we had a government minister standing at the despatch box saying India is a terrible they should never be used for, you know, hiding harm. But what’s fantastic is, is that this piece of legislation now set precedent, and it’s given us the leverage. And, you know, I’ve had a couple of meetings with Kevin Hollinrake and to give him his due, I think personally, he is very passionate and behind this. I think the party line is what the problem is.

 

Coco Khan Right.

 

Zelda Perkins But.

 

Coco Khan What why is that?

 

Zelda Perkins Well, if you think about it, basically what we’re doing is we’re trying we’re disrupting the status quo. And anything that is disrupting the status quo is always going to come against, you know, big barriers, you know, NDA silencing the vulnerable, keeping the weak wage, keeping the poor poor is how powerful people stay in power. So we’re taking away one of their number one easily easy tools. And the current government line is that they’re waiting to see how the university legislation plays out before they can move it on to employment. Kemi Badenoch will do nothing. The perceivable is harming business.

 

Coco Khan Right.

 

Zelda Perkins So she just needs to turn her telescope around the right way. Because you know what? Running an ethical, moral company that looks after its employers. Works better. They’re the companies that are succeeding right now.

 

Coco Khan Well Kemi Badenoch she’s the business secretary. Right? So thats?

 

Zelda Perkins Also equality women’s equality.

 

Coco Khan Yes.

 

Zelda Perkins And no. So I’ve not been to speak to her yet.

 

Coco Khan Right. Oh gosh.

 

Zelda Perkins Because I’m speaking to everyone else because to be honest I don’t feel that there’s there’s much play there and I don’t want to get shut down. However, you know in terms of Labour I feel like we’ve got a lot of movement there. You know, I’m sure you’re aware that Marina Wheeler KC was employed by the Labour Party to look at whistleblowing and protections for particularly women in the workplace and sexual harassment. And she’s doing this big report with Emily Thornberry. And I’m in fact, I’m going to see them after here. Nice straight for the second time, which I’m very excited about because I think, you know, they’re both lawyers and I think they understand the harms here and they also understand the fix. I don’t want to jinx things, but I’m just going to say they’re definitely going to make this into the into a piece of legislation like the manifesto. Because it’s free, you know, there’s no money.

 

Nish Kumar Yeah.

 

Zelda Perkins If and when Labour get in there’s no money for them to do anything with. So anything that’s free.

 

Coco Khan Yeah.

 

[AD]

 

Coco Khan Your role in bringing down Harvey Weinstein was immortalized on screen in 2022. In a film called She Said with Samantha Morton, the Queen played you. So. Here’s a clip.

 

Clip People have tried to write this story before. He kills it every time.

 

Clip Harvey adamantly denies any allegation of assault.

 

Clip He played people. He was a master manipulator.

 

Clip Will you give me just one chance to talk to you?

 

Clip Are you sure that this isn’t just young women who want to sleep with a movie producer to try to get ahead?

 

Clip This is bigger than Weinstein. This is about the system protecting abusers.

 

Coco Khan What was that like, seeing yourself portrayed on the big screen by none other than Samantha Morton? I mean, were you happy with how your bit was told?

 

Zelda Perkins Listen, Samantha Morton is is is a goddess.

 

Coco Khan An icon. Yes.

 

Zelda Perkins If it wasn’t for her, that whole experience, would have been only horrific to be honest. It was not a great experience. And it was weird because having worked in the industry, I understand what happens to a script when it goes through development. And, you know, obviously it’s a it’s a dramatization. So there’s a lot of stuff that’s not actually factually accurate, which wouldn’t matter if I was dead, but it kind of matters when you’re alive. And I know it sounds really awful, but I’m kind of glad the film wasn’t wildly commercially successful. Just just because it’s it is a weird thing. You think, like, the idea is really exciting that someone’s going to portray you in the film. The reality is, actually, it’s not great. Also, for me, I know it sounds.

 

Coco Khan Saying you won because because this story started in the, in Hollywood. So, you know, the ending you won is that. And now Hollywood is different. And then actually, you know, it’s the same taking a story, not letting you speak up.

 

Zelda Perkins It’s weird. And I have to say it was really hard because also I only went to one of the opening front of the premiere because didn’t want to go to the premieres because, you know, we had to do we had to do that. Oh, dress up in a dress and walk down the red carpet. And I’m like, do you not get it? The whole reason that all of these women were in the situation they were in, because they all fell for that shit, because they all want to put on their, you know, their dress and walk down the red carpet cause they get dressed up like, show ponies and do that. You know, I went in a suit with my can’t buy my silence t shirt on and I’m like, no, I’m not going to I don’t I’m not playing that game because this is where it all started. Do you not see the irony?

 

Coco Khan Oh, good for you for doing that. Good for you.

 

Zelda Perkins Well, you know, I sound like a real, you know, Grinch, but but it’s a it’s it’s a weird. It’s a weird thing. It’s a weird thing.

 

Nish Kumar One of the things that will presumably chill the listeners of this podcast, as it did me hearing you say, is that you think that a lot of people will have signed an NDA without realizing it. Is there something that people can do if they find themselves in a situation where they’re being constrained by an NDA from reporting on abuse?

 

Zelda Perkins Absolutely. I mean, my first thing I would suggest that people go to our website, which is can’t buy my silence.com. We have a huge amount of resources. They’re giving you some advice. It’s not legal advice, but it is practical and real advice. And what you can do if you’re being asked to sign an NDA. What you can do if you have signed an NDA. There are also great companies out there to help, like protect whistleblowing, who give you whistleblowing, legal advice and whistleblowers. UK. But something that I think is important for people to understand and I’m not telling people to break their in days. Secretly I am.

 

Coco Khan Pod Save the UK is not responsible for any legal action.

 

Zelda Perkins Thank you. Big disclaimer. Is it 90%, if not more, of NDAs are not worth the paper they’re written on. They are not legally enforceable. They are there to scare the living daylights out of you and keep you quiet. And if you go to a lawyer, lawyer will always tell you you can’t break your NDA. Now, again, I’m not advising people to break their in eggs, but in the last, 12 months, I’ve had four people who I’ve been working with who chose entirely independently to break their NDAs after talking to me.

 

Nish Kumar It feels like it feels like you’re saying one thing, Zelda, but you’re suggesting something else.

 

Zelda Perkins No, no, I’m not at all. Absolutely not. Don’t break your NDA without full legal advice, whatever you do. But some very, some very smart women broke their NDAs, and there have been no recriminations. Now, you know, that’s a cross-section of sectors. And actually, for me, you know, one of the areas where ideas are rife, orange journalism, as I’m sure you know, you know, and in the entertainment industry, massive. And I’ve got lots of Russell Brand women who speak to me who’ve not yet broken their NDAs. In fact, you could pretty much name anybody to me except you Nish. You’re safe. So far. The sad thing is, is that I have this horrible sort of treasure chest of people with awful stories who are too afraid to come, come forward. And they’re not all women.

 

Coco Khan Do you think so? Is this your life’s work now, or are you hoping.

 

Zelda Perkins No.

 

Coco Khan Can say you’re sort of hoping, like, come on, ten years and I can have a break please.

 

Zelda Perkins Freeze like and did this year. Okay. Come on. Labour getting legislation is change, right? Right, right. Then I think I’ve managed to persuade the legal sector that if legislations change, they’ll change their guidance. Then I’m done. Then I need to get a job I haven’t earned any money for for basically five years.

 

Coco Khan It’s always Guatemalan horses.

 

Zelda Perkins Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s where I’ll be heading back if I can afford my ticket to get out of town.

 

Nish Kumar That’s such a nice, nice note to add the conversation on. Politicians, please, for the love of God, do some legislating so Zelda can get back to Guatemala and hang out with the horses.

 

Zelda Perkins Thank you. He’s just saying that because he knows he’s got an NDA. Get out of the country! Quickly!

 

Coco Khan Zelda Perkins, thank you so much for your time today. And yeah, what we we are very much following this. And we also hope that it will go into the manifesto. You’re listening Labour. You know a little suggestion from us. Just saying.

 

Zelda Perkins And thank you for shining a little bit of light on the campaign. And as well as going there to check for information, there’s also donation. There’s also, what that thing you sign a petition. Petition? Yes.

 

Coco Khan Yes.

 

Zelda Perkins Because all of that really helps.

 

Coco Khan We’ll stick that in the show notes.

 

Zelda Perkins Thank you so much.

 

Coco Khan Lovely. Thank you so much. Zelda. We really appreciate it.

 

Nish Kumar Thank you so much, Zelda.

 

Coco Khan [AD]

 

Nish Kumar It’s time to name our PSUK hero and villain of the week. So, Coco, who’s your choice for villain.

 

Coco Khan Well, it was very easy this week because I had some help from one of our listeners, actually, Harriet in Kent. She sent us a voice note to tell us about three Tory counselors on Warwickshire County Council who are very deserving of our villain of the week award.

 

Listener Harriet Hi, Nish and Coco and all the pod save the UK team. Just thought this one might interest you. There was a meeting in January at Warwickshire Council, and the councilors have been filmed saying some incredibly offensive and outdated views about, children with special needs. As per usual, the parenting is being blamed. Comments have been made, such as is there something in the water? They have also said, oh well, there weren’t any kids with these problems. When I was at school there were, as a parent of two very small children with additional needs. I can say safely that these comments are completely offensive and don’t I don’t know what world these people are living in. It’s just very concerning. These people are in charge of funding and policies that affect our children, when they’ve clearly either never met anyone with additional aides or taken the time to actually learn anything.

 

Coco Khan So if that sounded bad enough, let’s actually hear it. So this is Councilor Jeff Morgan speaking at this meeting of the council’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, where some of the councilors seem to be struggling to understand the rising demand for the council’s special educational needs and disability services.

 

Clip Surely it can’t always be the case that just because demand is increasing, there is a genuine need. That’s what I’m trying to get at and I don’t know how. How do you do that? Apart from, I don’t know, being tougher, asking more penetrating questions, not automatically accepting the plea of a mother and saying that little Willie has got ADHD, when in actual fact that Little Willy is just really badly behaved and and needs some form of strict correction. You see what I’m going. I don’t want to be to Daily Mail on this, but but I do, but I am. Yeah.

 

Coco Khan So as our listener Harriet alluded to, other comments included Councilor Brian Hammersley asking if something in the water was increasing special needs cases, and Councilor Claire Gilbey questioning whether families were on social media. And this is an actual quote. Swapping tips on how to get their children diagnosed. Three councilors have apologized and are being taken off the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee and, according to the council leader, are being put on a program of training, development and education. But my God, it’s it’s it’s horrible to hear it in the cold light of day. Like we know that there’s, stigmatizing opinions about children with additional needs and that there’s a long legacy of blaming the mothers, always the mothers, never the fathers. But to actually hear it in 2024, it took my breath away. The assertion of, well, it wasn’t like this when I was at school. I didn’t know any people like that. I’m like, you!

 

Nish Kumar That is one of my least favorite things. It wasn’t like this kids were getting. Yeah, because they didn’t know what it was.

 

Coco Khan Well exactly.

 

Nish Kumar Kids got didn’t have no one. I’ve had a peanut allergy. Yeah they did. They just used to die. People would say it was because of ghosts, you know? Dinosaurs.

 

Coco Khan Okay, so your turn now, Nish. Who are you awarding the title of PSUK hero of the week to?

 

Nish Kumar Well, look on a much happier now. I was genuinely touched by this story about Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who have been helping out a young Wrexham fan with a rare health condition. The two actors are, of course, the owners of Wrexham Football Club. The stars of the TV documentary Welcome to Wrexham. Wrexham fan Louie Perrin was born with a rare genetic condition. Now this condition causes him to have painful leg spasms, limited mobility, epilepsy and cerebral palsy and his parents, Aaron and Charlie, at a fundraising 40,000 pounds to adapt their home in Wrexham, and they were shocked to see a 10,000 pounds donation appear on their fundraising page last Friday with the simple message up the town, young man Ryan and rob the family, saying that they hope to raise enough money to fix a downstairs bedroom with an additional wet room attached and raise the level in the garden to make it easier for Louie to move from the home to the garden in his wheelchair. By sharing their story and with the involvement of the Hollywood duo, Charlotte and Aaron hope to show their experience is not a unique case. There’s so many families with either half finished builds or they’ve not started building at all, and they’re selling up or having to give up work to care for their disabled children’s. They cannot access funding. That’s a quote from, Aaron Louis. Dad. So for my hero of the week, I’m giving a big old heartwarming love in and going for Rob in. Behind at Louie’s parents, Aaron and Charlotte.

 

Coco Khan Aw. This anecdote also made me really want to watch Welcome to Wrexham because I don’t watch it. But funnily enough.

 

Nish Kumar It’s very good.

 

Coco Khan My husband watches it and it’s always really funny when I walk into the living room while he’s watching it and there’ll be a moment he’s like, I’m not crying, I’m not crying. Oh, I see this is like man’s romcom, you know when I stay home and cry and eat my chocolates because I’m watching Jennifer Lopez not find her true love. The. Oh, that’s what Welcome to Wrexham is for, dudes. I get it now, I get it. And there was a lot of love for last week’s guests. Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf. ArenalAlas on YouTube said am I dreaming or did I just listen to a politician actually answer questions for 45 minutes?

 

Nish Kumar And look, if you missed it, you can listen back to last week’s episode interview with Humza Yousaf by finding it on our feed. It’s well worth your time.

 

Coco Khan You can get in touch with us by emailing PSUK@ReducedListening.Co.Uk. It’s always nice to hear your voices, so do send us a voice now on WhatsApp. Our number is 07514 644572. Internationally that’s +44 7514 644572.

 

Nish Kumar Don’t forget to follow at Pod Save the UK on Instagram and Twitter. You can also find us on YouTube for access to full episodes and other exclusive content. And if you like, you can drop us a review too. Be nice though. We’re extremely sensitive. And also I’m in New York, so don’t spoil my business trip.

 

Coco Khan Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.

 

Nish Kumar Thanks to senior producer, Musty Aziz and digital producer Alex Bishop.

 

Coco Khan Video editing was by Will Darken and the music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos.

 

Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer, David Dugahee.

 

Coco Khan The executive producers are Anoushka Sharma, Dan Jackson and Madeline Herringer. With additional support from Ari Schwartz.

 

Nish Kumar Remember to hit subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Amazon, Spotify or Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts.