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Interview with Marlene Schiappa; More Allegations Against Harvey Weinstein. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 7, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: It's not just Hollywood and it's not just America. The flood gates have opened up a bit more everyday since Harry
Weinstein's disgrace. Tonight, women around the world empowered to say enough is enough.
Joining me in the studio, the journalist who's allegation led to the resignation of the British defense minister on what else might lie behind
the radar. And the French gender equality minister drawing up tough view legislation against sexual predators.
Good evening, everyone. And, welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. As the tsunami of sexual abuse allegations rolls on
here in the U.K. two high profile incidents today. First, the former Welsh Minister Carl Sargeant was found dead a week after he was removed from
office amid allegations about improper conduct toward women.
His death isn't being treated as suspicious. At the same time Oxford University announced a major intellectual professor Tariq Ramadan is taking
a mutually agreed leave of absence following allegations of sexual assault in France. Allegations that Ramadan strongly denies.
Later in this program we'll be joined by the French gender equality minister. But first, the sleaze in politics is now a major target for
British Prime Minister Theresa May as it is for the French. It reached high up into her cabinet.
Her own Minister of Defense Michael Fallon had to step down last week after my next guest, the political journalist, Jane Merrick reported him to
Downing Street claiming that he had lunged at her lips trying to kiss her when she was a junior reporter.
And, she joins me now. Jane, welcome to the program.
JANE MERRICK, JOURNALIST: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: First, how difficult was it for you to report him to Downing Street and then to go public with his name?
MERRICK: It was really difficult. I mean, this was a - an incident that's happened to me 14 years ago. I've talked about it in the context of
harassment but I've never named him because it was at the less serious end of the spectrum and I thought about whether I should come forward because
it was so long ago.
But I was also made aware of allegations involving him, more recent allegations. So, I thought what would I do? I'm 43 years old. What would
I do to my - for my 29 year old self. If there are younger women out that this has happened to then I need to do something about my allegations.
So, I contacted Number 10 and it was a really difficult thing to do but I'm glad that I did it.
AMANPOUR: And you asked them to maintain your anonymity and your privacy.
AMANPOUR: And, they did.
MERRICK: They did. They were really good and I spoke to them at 5 o'clock on Wednesday and two and a half hours later Michael Fallon - so Michael
Fallon had resigned. So, although I'm aware that they had a number of allegations involving him, mine seemed to be the tipping point.
And, so, yes. But I - they respected my anonymity and I was very -
AMANPOUR: But, you outed yourself.
MERRICK: Yes. I did. So, what changed between Wednesday and Sunday when I wrote an article was that - so Michael had - he didn't apologize for what
he had done. He said that this kind of thing was acceptable 10, 15 years ago. And, I was sitting at home thinking it wasn't acceptable and I want
him to know that.
The second thing was that the debate was being trivialized. It was moving away from serious assault that has happened in Westminster and harassment
into something like a less, sort of, serious debate. And I wanted to make sure the debate stayed on the serious issues.
AMANPOUR: So, briefly give us the issue that happened. I mean, he lunged at you but you were a young political reporter.
MERRICK: We had gone out for lunch. I was a political reporter. I would take M.P.s out for lunch three times a week. We had a couple of glasses of
wine. It's completely normal. Walking back through the House of Commons, this was a quiet area, he just lunged at me as if to kiss me on the lips
and I just shrank back in horror.
I was horrified. And, I was - I'd only been a political journalist for two years and I was just really humiliated.
AMANPOUR: Did you carry this around for a long time? I mean, did you feel the whole, sort of, shame?
MERRICK: I felt humiliated enough to - I didn't want to report it because I thought I would be blacklisted if I did something about it. What
actually happened, I mean, I wasn't - it didn't stay with me but what happened was the next time I saw him the power had shifted between us.
He exerted a power over me because I had run away from him. I hadn't stood up to him and he knew that. He knew possibly what he's done and I knew
what he'd done and that never - was never redressed until Wednesday night.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think given what treason (ph) the prime minister said in Parliament yesterday and with other party leaders that there needs to be
a much more rigorous and formal address of this situation, do you think that really something is going to change now? Are we at a tipping point?
MERRICK: It feels like at the real moment, I mean Hollywood have had their moments. A lots of industries have had their moments. This is
Westminster's moment to take this opportunity. The damn seems to have burst and obviously there are allegations about different politicians.
AMANPOUR: And different parties-
MERRICK--And different parties-
AMANPOUR: -- I mean it crosses party lines.
MERRICK: Exactly. And it doesn't mean that you know it's (ph) in damage in Westminster, but there obviously are problems and the Prime Ministers
talked about a new culture of respect and that's all I wanted was respect in my professional life and so I think she has taken up the opportunity but
it's really important that women have the confidence to come forward. That there isn't a back lash if they if they come forward, that they're not
criticized for anything they may have done.
AMANPOUR: So what, let me first ask you about the death of (Chris Sargeant) who was made to stand down after certain allegations. You know
people are going to say see see it's a witch hunt see I mean we don't know the circumstances of his death at the moment but the police are not
treating it as suspicious which is often code for something.
AMANPOUR: In any event, what do you say to that?
MERRICK: I mean first of all, its incredible distressing to hear this news my my thoughts are with his family. I mean it's incredibly horrendous news
to hear. I think that due process needs to happen and everybody deserves due process and that that is the complainant but it's also the people who
are accused of certain allegations and I think that's really important.
AMANPOUR: Let me just quickly flip to the politically story in Westminster which is twirling around this particular one as well. Prime Minister May
is trying deal with this and may need this actually to shore up her own authority at a time when her her Minister for International Affairs,
International Development has basically admitted and apologized for an improper meeting in Israel, an improperly promising British aid to the
Israeli military without even telling the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary.
MERRICK: That's right.
AMANPOUR: I mean, what is going on? And then you have the Foreign Secretary embroiled in this blunder that may further endanger what the
Iranians are doing to a British citizen out there.
MERRICK: Ya, that that is really serious cases actually and I think particularly because Priti Patel apologized and yet we we have now found
out that Theresa May didn't know about this promise about aid and I think she will be furious that she hasn't been kept in the loop. She met
Benjamin Netanyahu last week without knowing that her Minister had met him in the summer.-
AMANPOUR: --How did she find out then? Did Benjamin Netanyahu tell her?--
MERRICK: --I think.--?
AMANPOUR: --For the aid?--
MERRICK: --Yea yea, I mean this is extraordinary this is the sort of to sort of beside to to you know be called out like that. I think she will so
furious and I think that I think (ph) is in trouble (Forest Johnston) is in trouble too, I mean he has you know it's a most diplomatically sensitive
job in the government and he had, this is us the woman's MP said today, it could be a matter of life and death for this woman. (ph) in jail and it's
really really serious and I think he possibly should consider his position.
AMANPOUR: Well we're gonna have more about that later in the program but just to wrap this up, do you think the Prime Minister has done enough sort
of institutionally I mean does there need to be legislation to make the work place safe for woman or indeed young men anybody who is potentially
MERRICK: Yea, I think I think there are all ready laws in the workplace for this. I think the problem with Parliament is that worker HR
department, Human Resources department for people to go to were employed by MP's and then potentially they were being exposed to the abuse and now
there will be an independent complaints procedure that people can use and I think that's really good.
AMANPOUR: So, you know you you say that there there are laws. There are laws but clearly they're not being enforced even by HR departments in many
many many work places. And I guess I'm just trying to figure out, you know, some people are gonna be saying, ah oh you know so complimenting a
woman is that sexual harassment? People are gonna claim that they don't know where the red line is.
MERRICK: Yea, I think nothing has changed (ph), there are no new rules after Weinstein and after what we've seen here. I met an MP that I've
known for years this morning and we we pecked on the cheek and that's completely normal. Nothing has changed, I think it just will have, nothing
has changed in terms of the rules. What has changed is we need respect now, we need to start calling out the bad behavior and that's what need to
happen and that's the culture shift. AMANPOUR: (ph) said the the times have changed and his behavior may have been appropriate back then.
MERRICK: It wasn't appropriate. It wasn't appropriate, I mean this was not the 1970's this was 2003 and ya it was it was very inappropriate and I'm
glad that he's now acknowledged that.
AMANPOUR: Do you think there is more to come? Do you think, as I said, under the radar you know we've all ready all ready got a lot of name of
some people have admitted it, some people are denying it. Is is this the tip of a volcano?
MERRICK: I think in terms of number, I don't think there are more people to come out but I think there are possibly more details we don't know
about, I mean the Prime Minister said this yesterday that she knew of allegations that hadn't yet come to light. And obviously it's up to the
people, it's up to the woman involved if they want to come forward. It is really difficult to come forward and to talk about.
AMANPOUR: Do you think still?
MERRICK: I think it is still. I mean I've spoken to woman in last few days who don't want to come forward with their stories.
AMANPOUR: See, that's the tragedy.
MERRICK: It's really hard.
AMANPOUR: Why now when there's such an obvious moment?
MERRICK: Because there has been that backlash. There's been people on Twitter saying, well this was a long time ago or there were circumstances,
you were drinking wine in my case, but then in other cases, why did you maintain contact with this M.P. after he did that? And they just need a
bit more of a nudge to come forward. They need to sort of be -- to know that they will be listened to.
AMANPOUR: Another reason not to be on Twitter.
MERRICK: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Jane Mary, thank you so much to you.
MERRICK: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: After a break, we cross the channel to see how the French are saying no to sexual harassment. The country gender equality minister joins
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. In both Britain and France, the governments are being forced to clear up politics and beyond. Sexual
misconduct and abuse is certainly at the top of the agenda.
In just a moment I speak to the French Minister for gender equality who's calling for on the spot fines for sexual harassers and persistent cat
callers on the street. She says consent must be a red line.
But first, our Melissa Bell reports on the movement taking France by storm for the last several weeks. Hashtag, out your pig or balance ton porc.
And as we mentioned earlier in the program, the allegation by a French woman that threatens the career of the prominent Muslim scholar, Tariq
MELISSA BELL, CNN COORESPONDENT: The hashtag may have varied from the U.S. but the anger expressed has been universal. Women speaking out about
harassment, sexual abuse and rape in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
In France, the exposure of pig hashtag has led woman onto the streets and into action. Woman like Henda Ayari.
HENDA AYARI: (Foreign language).
BELL: Henda Ayari is one of two women now accusing the high profile Islamic scholar, Tariqu Ramadan of rape. Allegations that are now in the
hands of prosecutors. Ramadan, who's taken a leave of absence from Oxford University denies any wrong doing, denouncing what he calls, a campaign of
And saying on his Facebook page, unfounded allegations can never take the place of concrete truth. These accusations are simply false and betray all
the ideals I have long strived for and believe in.
In France, as in other countries, woman have been speaking out about specific allegations, but also about a cultural problem that has allowed
men to harass them with impunity in the worlds of business, fashion, cinema, journalism and politics.
Like Westminster, France's national assembly is now that at the center of a great deal of attention over sexual harassment allegations. As recently as
July 2012, this Minister was subject to cast (ph) calling (ph). This for choosing on a summer date to wear a dress.
Now, (inaudible) a former green party spokesman has decided to act. Last year, she and several other women accused the vice president of the
national assembly of sexual harassment (inaudible) resigned although the case never made it to court. In a statement she called the allegations
defamatory and baseless lies. He said he'd resign to protect the reputation of Parliament and to defend himself launching slander
proceedings against the women.
ROUSSEAU: Sexual violence is an abusive power and the world of politics is a world of power. Specifically a world of male power because there are far
more men who have the top jobs in France and so far, I don't think women in politics have been speaking out enough. I think there is much more that
needs to be said about how some men behave.
BELL: Sandrine Rousseau wants to make it easier for women to get justice. She's created a site for women to come together and share their stories and
raise money for legal action.
ROUSSEAU: It's a revolution. And the women who have been using these hashtags are very brave. I also want to say to them, come and help us
finance our project because together, we'll be stronger.
BELL: France's first minister for equality between men and women believe that the hashtag is important but agrees that more needs to be done.
SCHIAPPA: We can see that street harassment is not allowed in the (inaudible) in France. And I think that it's really important to say that
no, it's not OK, it's not allowed to follow women, it's not allowed to harass them in the street, in the subway, you are not allowed.
BELL: The struggle for women in France as in other countries will now be to drum their anger into action.
AMANPOUR: And that was Marlene Schiappa, Frances gender equality minister ending ministers rapport (ph). And I'll be talking more to the minister
from France about her governments plans to end the harassment that she was speaking about of women on the streets especially.
Minister, welcome to the program. When you started looking into this issues of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, even sexual violence, were you
surprised by how prevalent it was, by how much of it went on in France?
SCHIAPPA: No, I wasn't at all surprised. I wasn't surprised because I'm part of a group of women who have been reporting the scope of sexual and
sexual violence for years now. And we were also reporting on the amount of this and on the denial because we are used to minimizing them, to silence
them. And it is difficult for women to talk about it.
I was not very surprised by the amount of them and encourage them to use freedom of speech and what makes me happy now is that society is ready to
listen to these women who chose to speak.
AMANPOUR: So tell me exactly -- we've seen you in parliament, we've seen the legislation you propose, tell me exactly what you expect to change.
SCHIAPPA: Well lots of things have to start. First of all, the mindset has to change. And that's why the president of the republic, Emmanuel
Macron has said that inequality between men and women will be a great national coast (ph) so we can start companying (ph), so we can make people
aware and we can have education programs and so we make sure that society tolerates less sexual and sexist abuse.
And also, with the minister of justice, we have open consultations on the great citizen law against sexist and sexual violence in order to condemn
them in a federal (ph) way from the moment women decide to start talking about it, to the moment we set the punishment so that the punishment are
For example, people who rub up against you in the subway, in France, they're considered sexual abusers and the punishments can go up to
EUR15,000 but we're not really aware of it because the problem is we don't call them sexual abusers, but we call them rubbers in our language. But
this is exactly what they are and this contributes to minimize how serious this is and sets up a climate of relative tolerance towards sexual abuses.
AMANPOUR: France has always been looked at as the sexy country of the world. As the country of love and romance and language. You've had your
own major abuser, Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was dismissed but never convicted. You have the president of the United States of America who we
have on tape saying things that are considered very, very vulgar. What messages are being sent by those cases?
SCHIAPPA: We have a double sided culture in France. The culture you describe well, the culture of the French lover, of love the French way of
seduction, which is part of French culture.
But we mustn't forget France is also the (cradle) of philosophical feminism where the country of Simon de Beauvoir of lights of those authors who
theorize relations between men and women like Simon de Beauvoir and others.
And I think we have the meeting point between these two cultures and we need to be able to preserve an enjoyable space for seduction while fighting
against sexual and sexist violence.
I want to remind everyone that sexual violence is not seduction. From the moment a woman is forced to do something through threat, surprise,
obligation or physical violence, we're clearly no longer in the category of seduction.
AMANPOUR: This afternoon there has been a statement from Oxford University that professor Tariq Ramadan is stepping down for the time being while
investigations into accusations against him are completed.
It is a French woman who accused him of rape. He's denied it. What is your reaction to him stepping down from his position?
SCHIAPPA (Through Translator): I think these are serious allegations and very important and I think in general we need to take all allegations very
seriously and stand by the victims.
And I think justice must prevail. In France we are in a country of law. There is a presumption of innocence that applies to everyone. To
(inaudible), to (inaudible), to neighbors, that's the rule of law.
And it's made that way and from the moment it's applied, it will tell us if someone is guilty and yes, I think from the moment people are recognized as
guilty of sexual aggression or harassment, it will be very important that everyone serves their sentence; that there will be sentences and that
justice is served.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe that this is a tipping point in France and in many of our countries but in France and do you have the support of all your
fellow ministers, of your president, of the police, the magistrates, you know all the people who need to be part of the solution?
SCHIAPPA (Through Translator): There is more than support; there is great solidarity of the heart of the French government. First, the French
President has decreed equality between men and women a national objective during the five year term.
I work with the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, who is coordinating the interim ministerial (inaudible) and many ministers have expressed their
feelings on this topic.
The jobs minister, the minister of justice, the culture minister, the health minister and many others have spoken out on this to share their
indignation about sexual harassment and sexual violence to say how dedicated that we move forward together hand in hand.
AMANPOUR: Minister Marlene Schiappa, thank you very much for joining me from Paris tonight. And just a note there is 84,000 rapes every year in
France and nearly quarter of a million sexual assaults.
When we come back we imagine a world where the officials are supposed to help when you're in trouble abroad, instead dangerously complicates your
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a beleaguered British government putting one more nail into its own coffin, and in so doing further
endangering one of its own. It's something the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, is learning at a high price, though he's not the one paying
for it. That would be Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman who was arrested by the Iranian regime 19 months ago while she was on
holiday visiting family in Tehran. She was accused though of plotting against the Iranian regime, and in a closed court session she was sentenced
to five years last September.
But last week at a Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, apparently thought he was defending Nazanin when he said
"she was simply teaching people journalism." Well that was catnipped to the hard-liners in Iran who are holding her.
Straight after the Boris blunder, the revolutionaries hold Nazanin back into the court room and threatened her with more charges and an extra five
years in jail. Today, Johnson spoke to the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, trying to clear up this mess. The trouble is marauders like Zarif
do not hold her fate in their hand. Johnson corrected himself saying today, "the UK government has no doubt that she was on holiday in Iran when
she was arrested." And in parliament he fended off critics of his clumsy comments.
BORIS JOHNSON, UK SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: It's simply untrue for her to say it. She has said today there is any connection whatever between my
remarks last week and the legal proceedings underway against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Tehran today.
AMANPOUR: Well that wasn't the word from Tehran. Nazanin employers, Thompson Reuters, say, "it is time now for the foreign secretary to meet
Nazanin in jail as he proposed last week and to bring her back home. It may also be useful for him to finally meet with Nazanin's family and myself
to fully appreciate the situation. This would be the first time he would have met us since Nazanin was jailed 19 months ago. A foreign secretary
who may needlessly added to the horrors endured by a citizen in a foreign land.
And that's it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from London.