Zelda Perkins, a former assistant to Harvey Weinstein, told British lawmakers Wednesday that a non-disclosure agreement she signed enjoining her silence over an alleged sexual assault by the producer on an unnamed colleague was “a morally lacking agreement on every level.”
Perkins was giving oral evidence to a British parliamentary committee on women and equality, which is conducting an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
Perkins said she and her colleague were advised that they would be “utterly crushed” if they tried to pursue a case against Weinstein with the police or in the courts, and so they decided to pursue a financial claim against Miramax instead. In the end, they accepted a financial settlement and signed the NDA.
“It’s a morally lacking agreement on every level,” Perkins told lawmakers. “There are clauses in there that preclude me and my colleague from not only speaking to our friends, colleagues, family about our time at Miramax and what happened but also to any medical practitioner, any legal representative, the Inland Revenue, an accountant, a financial advisor.
“We can speak to those people as long as they sign their own non-disclosure agreement before they can enter enter into any conversation with us about anything,” Perkins added. “Even within that, we were still under pressure not to name anybody that any of the events happened with.”
She said that her colleague saw a trauma counselor but never discussed the alleged assault by Weinstein because she was so afraid of the terms of the agreement. Perkins said she herself believed at the time that she would go to jail for breaching the NDA. In the instance of civil or legal action, she said, “we were asked to use our best endeavors not to disclose anything.”
In a written statement submitted to the parliamentary panel, Perkins suggested ways in which the NDA system should be reformed, including that such agreements are approved by a company at CEO and board level, and that companies should be obliged to report the matter to the police if there is an allegation of a criminal act.
Weinstein is under investigation in both the U.S. and U.K. for a string of alleged sexual assaults, although no charges have yet been brought against him.
Perkins said Weinstein had wanted her and her colleague to remain at Miramax. They came face to face with him when the moment came to sign the NDA. “He had a long conversation with us, trying to bring us back to the company, apologizing for his behavior, in fact almost a full admission, which my lawyer noted and was not allowed to leave the room with that piece of paper and it was destroyed,” Perkins said.
She added: “He wanted to keep his enemies close. He offered us more money [and] whatever we wanted,” she said. “It’s a clear admission of guilt.”
Perkins described marathon sessions involving her, her lawyers, and Miramax’s legal representatives. She said she wanted obligations put on Weinstein as part of the NDA, including that he attend counseling, that new HR processes be put in place and that, if any other damages claim were made against Weinstein in the following two years, they would have to be disclosed to Disney and Weinstein would be fired.
She also said her lawyers “reacted with hilarity” when she told them of a secondary plan to go to Miramax parent company Disney. Disney has been asked to contribute evidence to the parliamentary inquiry but has declined.