Judge orders ex-Weinstein boss to submit evidence to UK tribunal

Judge orders former American boss of The Weinstein Company to submit evidence to UK tribunal investigating sex assault allegations after he claimed he didn’t have to because he was in the US

  • Tim Sarnoff stepped down from the board of The Weinstein Company in 2017 
  • He has now been ordered to submit evidence to a London tribunal on Weinstein
  • Mr Sarnoff among a number of the Weinstein’s former associates asked to do so
  • He is alleged to have ‘helped Mr Weinstein carry out the unlawful acts of assault’
  • Mr Sarnoff previously claimed he did not have to do so as he was based in US 

A former board member of Harvey Weinstein’s film studio has been ordered by a British judge to submit evidence to a tribunal investigating sex assault after he claimed he didn’t have to because he lives in the US.

Tim Sarnoff, deputy CEO of film processing giant Technicolor, resigned from the board of The Weinstein Company in 2017, days after allegations of Weinstein’s rampant sexual harassment came to light.

However in a sex discrimination claim made in a British employment tribunal against Weinstein, who is currently serving a prison sentence for sex offences in the US, Mr Sarnoff is listed as co-respondent.

He is among a number of the producer’s former associates who are alleged to have ‘knowingly helped Mr Weinstein carry out the unlawful acts of assault and harassment.’

Tim Sarnoff, deputy CEO of film processing giant Technicolor, (pictured) is among a number of the producer’s former associates who are alleged to have ‘knowingly helped Mr Weinstein carry out the unlawful acts of assault and harassment’

Harvey Weinstein is currently serving his 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault at a maximum security prison in New York State. (he is pictured in February outside the Supreme Court in New York)

The claimant – who can not be named for legal reasons – alleges that she was sexually assaulted and harassed by Weinstein while she was working at The Weinstein Company.

Weinstein himself is listed as a respondent to the claim, alongside his brother and former business partner Robert Weinstein, the global and UK subsidiaries of The Weinstein Company and a number of associates – including its former COO David Glasser.

Having been one of the most powerful and influential producers in the movie industry, Weinstein was found guilty of two sex crimes in February – a verdict considered a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, that was largely spawned by the allegations about the producer’s conduct.

Weinstein is currently serving his 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault at a maximum security prison in New York State.

Responding to a request for the tribunal to disclose documents ahead of the hearing, Mr Sarnoff argued that he could not be ordered to contribute any evidence – because he was not in Britain when the order was made.

Because the Hollywood high-flier does not work or live in the UK, he lodged an appeal claiming that he could only be compelled to provide disclosure if he was physically present in the country.

Mr Sarnoff’s argument rests in the wording of the procedural rules that govern employment tribunals, which state that they ‘may order any person in Great Britain to disclose documents or information’.

This was dismissed by Mr Justice Kerr sitting at the Employment Appeal Tribunal who, in a written judgment published today, said that ‘a person may be taken to be ‘in Great Britain’ by virtue of that person taking in the litigation in Great Britain.’

The judge continued: ‘It is unrealistic to argue that the bringing of a claim against a person located outside Great Britain notionally drags that person onto this island against his or her will by some kind of litigious magnetic force.

‘The foreigner sued here but resident abroad does not choose to be sued and must react to the claim even if only to deny jurisdiction, or risk a default judgment.’

In 2018, the Metropolitan Police revealed that it was investigating an allegation of sexual assault against Weinstein in London (pictured in 2010, before allegations of sexual assault came to light), and several of his alleged victims are thought to be bringing their own cases against him in the UK

If the wording of the procedural rules was taken literally, Mr Justice Kerr said, the consequences would be ‘unjust and near absurd’.

He added: ‘In my judgment, the words “in Great Britain” must be taken to refer to the location of the employment tribunal making the disclosure order, not to the location of the person against whom the order is made.’

Having had his appeal rejected, Mr Sarnoff – who denies claims he helped Weinstein – will now be compelled to provide any evidence or information pertaining to the tribunal as it proceeds.

In 2018, the Metropolitan Police revealed that it was investigating an allegation of sexual assault against Weinstein in London, and several of his alleged victims are thought to be bringing their own cases against him in the UK.

After his sentencing earlier this year Jill Greenfield, a partner at London law firm Freshfisher, said she was representing six women in civil compensation claims against Weinstein.

The movie mogul’s production company, Miramax, had offices in London.

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