Further to the Johnny Vegas story

// 2 May 2008

It has been pointed out on another feminist forum that the way to really hurt these sorts of men is in their pockets. Vegas is the voice of PG Tips at the moment. Here is their contact page to complain and register your decision not to buy PG Tips again until he is sacked.

Comments From You

fenris // Posted 2 May 2008 at 7:10 pm

thank you!! writing mine up just now :)

chem_fem // Posted 2 May 2008 at 8:40 pm

You’ll be pleased to learn that PG Tips are owned by the same company that owns Pot Noodle :)

Kirsty // Posted 2 May 2008 at 8:47 pm

Lets get him sacked.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 2 May 2008 at 9:39 pm

I have already informed PG Tips I will not buy their products until Vegas is removed as the ‘face’ of PG Tips. I have also informed other feminist friends how they too can register their disgust at Vegas’ crime of sexually assaulting a young woman.

Annika // Posted 2 May 2008 at 9:49 pm

Thank you! I have complained to them, and awaiting a response. Seriously, the whole thing is disgusting, the man needs locking up as far as I’m concerned. If he will do that in a public place, in front of an audience of people, I dread to think what he is capable of in private.

I wonder how the woman involved is feeling about all this, and if she has considered pressing charges. I wonder if she knows how disgusted people are by his actions. I hope she is out there somewhere reading this.

Lorna // Posted 4 May 2008 at 6:54 pm

I’d like to complain to PG, but I don’t buy PG and never will. Is it wrong for me to suggest that I might buy their tea if they got rid of him?

Redheadinred // Posted 4 May 2008 at 10:22 pm

Sadly, I think if she pressed charges, it wouldn’t get anywhere. The courts would probably say ‘Oh it was only a joke and she did consent to kissing him in the first place.’ Then we’d be treated to the usual bog-shite about how ‘women who’ve been made a fool of play the rape card for revenge/attention’.

And Lorna, I think if you want to complain, you should, regardless of whether you buy PG or not, because as I’ve expressed above, it’s not going to be done the ‘proper’ way, it may as well be done an alternative way.

I wonder if anyone has written to Vegas himself about this?

Anna // Posted 5 May 2008 at 9:39 am

I never drink tea but I’ve just emailed PG tips saying I used to buy their tea all the time until this. I figure some other feminist somewhere does and will thank me for it.

Redheadinred // Posted 5 May 2008 at 4:16 pm

Do you know what is interesting about this whole thing? The light it had shed on the ‘free access’ assumed when a woman wears a skirt. If this teenager had worn jeans, and he had undone them and tugged them down, whilst she repeatedly tried to stop him doing that, there would have been much more controversy about it, and I imagine he wouldn’t have dared do this. But because she wears a skirt, and it’s tugged up while she protests, that’s not considered so aggressive. Why?

rubymoon // Posted 5 May 2008 at 10:10 pm

I suggest emailing him/writing to him through his agent, or the company which organises/promotes his shows.

Louise Livesey // Posted 6 May 2008 at 9:22 am

And to make this easier his agents appear to be The Edge and their contact details are available here. Enjoy!

Kirsty // Posted 6 May 2008 at 1:38 pm

I just got a reply from PG Tips, totally ignoring what I said and apologising for being offended by an advert?!

Johnny Vegas is supposed to be on Jonathan Ross on Friday. I suggest complaining to the bbc.

Louise Livesey // Posted 7 May 2008 at 2:02 pm

That’s still one better than me, they haven’t bothered to respond to my email at all!

Mick Hannigan // Posted 9 May 2008 at 2:55 am

Johnny Vegas did not commit a sexual assault. Mary O’Hara’s Guardian piece has been comprehensively discredited by numerous eyewitnesses who contributed to the Guardian Blog. The victim here is Vegas who’s reputation has been damaged by the chinese whispers provoked by the original article. Interestingly O’Hara’s article and the subsequent blog contributions have now been removed from The Guardian website.

Kara // Posted 9 May 2008 at 10:36 am

Um…Mick? What the HELL is your definition of sexual assualt then? So you’re saying he DIDN’T grope her boobs and lift up her skirt and sit on her? Or…are you saying that those acts are not sexual assualt? I actually laughed when you said that Vegas is the victim!!! You’ve got to be joking!

Holly Combe // Posted 9 May 2008 at 12:06 pm

I don’t know the full details with regard to the Guardian post getting taken down (and am going to have a look on the web to see what I can find) but note that

Hoyden About Town updated the story today.

Louise Livesey // Posted 9 May 2008 at 12:17 pm

Dear Mick, would you like to provide some evidence for your claims of “comprehensively discredited” or should we just take your word for it?

All the discussions I’ve read have agreed that he repeatedly pulled her skirt up when she was repeatedly pulling it down *and* that he did grope her breasts. This constitutes sexual assault whether or not he continued on to rub her vulva through her underwear.

When it was reported to the Police’s Sapphire Unit they said they were aware of it but without the victim to interview they could do no more than informally talk to Vegas. Given the vehemence of responses claiming she must have enjoyed it (because obviously all women must enjoy all sexual attention from men even if it is a sweaty overweight lumbering man) and that her failure to complain immediately, on stage, surrounded by a thousand laughing spectators, meant that she was getting off on it/was a plant/was complicit/means it wasn’t wrong – I’m not surprised she hasn’t come forward. As the more recently Melissa Bruen story shows its takes incredible courage to come forward when a crowd has condoned your assualt.

So yes, please provide evidence, Mick, of both your claims. I certainly don’t see Vegas suffering, he’s had the arrogance to not even make a comment (or make his agent do it) or apologise for the undisputed elements of the events that night.

Louise Livesey // Posted 9 May 2008 at 12:32 pm

I should also say the only strong defence of Vegas comes here with blurry video images and fuzzy sound of a short section before the acts took place. The writer seems to believe that the woman consented because she went onto the stage, I can only assume much as judges have assumed that going to someone’s room or wearing a short skirt or kissing someone automatically means you’re consenting to be raped or sexually asaulted. He also suggests that because Vegas had women talking to him after the show then he can’t possibly have done anything wrong.

I have two responses:

1. Josef Fritzl was a respected family man, does that mean Elisabeth is crazy and the DNA tests are wrong? Just because women talk to a man or because a man is married or because he has a consenting sexual partner doesn’t mean he is therefore incapable or innocent of sex crimes. It’s a complete non-sequitur.

2. He doesn’t know what the women were saying – it could have been “that was vile and we’re going to report you to the Police”, it could have been “I liked baked beans”. There is no evidence either way.

I’d also say that the writers decription of the Guardian writer as “stupid” and implicitly as hysterical says a lot about the writers view of women. And it completely ignores that much of the web commentary has agreed that Vegas went to far and sexually assaulted the women, whether or not he did stroke her vulva.

Romy Brandeis // Posted 10 May 2008 at 12:18 am

I caught the end of Jonathan Ross tonight. Johnny Vegas was in the Green Room and he simulated an act of sexual assault in the Green Room, on camera. He pretended to force a “blonde” woman (with a dodgy wig, supposedly JR’s assistant? I think she was another comedian?) to perform fellatio on him. He held her head down at his groin and pumped her face repeated towards his crotch. She laughed.

I have complained on the BBC site.

shttp://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

I lack the enthusiasm to watch his guest appearance on iPlayer, the Green Room scene was ghastly enough.

Louise Livesey // Posted 10 May 2008 at 8:40 am

I think the comedian in the wig was Alan Carr but I’m not sure.

What I felt was a shame was when the topic was initially broached Vegas came across as a man seriously considering the issue and who had been shaken by the events (or I suspect the quiet word from the Sapphire Unit). And then Jonathan Ross, obviously uncomfortable about a serious and quite intellectual discussion, turned it back to trivialities.

But yes, this was then let down totally by Vegas’s Green Room thing.

Victoria // Posted 10 May 2008 at 10:19 am

How much did Vegas stutter and squirm on Johnathan Ross last night? I was pleased to see that he was uncomfortable and obviously realized he’d gone too far…only for him to later state that he’d “done nothing wrong” and that he was “upset by the insinuations”! Since when was groping a stranger’s breasts not sexual assualt/molestation? If he had abused an animal or a child on stage then everyone would be – quite rightly – outraged so why are so many people condoning what he did to this young woman? Let’s face it: this man has completely got away with sexual assualt and has sent out a very dangerous message that it is fine, and even funny, to grope women in some (if not all) circumstances to a certain (or perhaps any) degree and if you are accused of assualt then YOU are the victim. The fact that the young woman has not spoken out about what happened suggests to me that she is not ok with it because if she were she would have defended him by now, especially since she was a fan of his in the first place. The fact that there is any debate about this reminds me that we are still in the Dark Ages.

Juliet // Posted 10 May 2008 at 2:37 pm

When Jonny Vegas got divorced not so long ago, he cited his wife’s “unreasonable behaviour”.

Speechless, moi?!

Leigh // Posted 12 May 2008 at 3:49 pm

I got a response that at least addressed the issue but, again, shrugged it off.

Hello from PG

Dear Leigh,

Thank you for your contacting the PG tips Careline. We were sorry to hear about your complaint regarding the PG tips advertising campaign.

The PG tips advertising campaign has worked hard to try and promote it’s partnership with the Rainforest Alliance to reassure our consumers that we are committed to purchasing all our tea from sustainable sources. It has been become an increasing concern to many of our consumers of the welfare of people in developing countries as well as the environmental impact on surrounding eco-systems. The aim of our partnership is to ensure that all our tea meets social, economic and environmental standards to help improve the working conditions and livelihoods of our certified farmers as well as introducing environmentally friendly farming techniques to help preserve and protect the environment.

Our campaign includes two famous characters, our very own Monkey and also Johnny Vegas. We decided to use these two characters to promote this partnership and the benefits of drinking tea in a light hearted and humorous way. We research all of our TV adverts with a range of consumers who are likely to buy the product to ensure that the adverts aren’t inappropriate or likely to cause offence. These adverts have proved to be a successful campaign in raising the awareness amongst our consumers.

As an advertiser we do not condone or promote any irresponsible behaviour and are disappointed with the actions displayed by Johnny Vegas at his recent show. We hope that while his behaviour was inappropriate, it will not discourage you from supporting PG tips and the Rainforest Alliance.

We do appreciate your concerns and our PG tips Brand Manager has been made aware. I do trust the above has reassured you and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Kind regards,

Mike Tynan

Careline Advisor

Unilever UK Limited

Registered in England & Wales; Company No 334527

Registered Office: Walton Court, Station Avenue, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

KT12 1UP

Louise Livesey // Posted 12 May 2008 at 3:57 pm

I have now received the same reply from PG Tips (took them a while). Basically it can be summarised thusly:

1. Hello.

2. We’re not bad people really, see environmental stuff.

3. Our adverts are also not bad and wrong but do involve Johnny Vegas.

4. Please don’t stop buying PG because we use Johnny Vegas – we want to distance ourselves from his behaviour which was definately wrong, if not Wrong.

5. We don’t know whether we’ll stop using him (we probably have him on retainer) but the person who makes that decision has been informed his “star” has released a storm of angry emails. It’s his fault at the company if anyones. But we’re still nice people because we help the rainforest alliance.

6. Please buy our tea. Thanks

PG Tips.

Annika // Posted 12 May 2008 at 4:23 pm

My email from PG Tips:

Hello from PG

Dear Annika,

Thank you for your contacting the PG tips Careline. We were sorry to

hear

about your complaint regarding the PG tips advertising campaign.

The PG tips advertising campaign has worked hard to try and promote

it’s

partnership with the Rainforest Alliance to reassure our consumers that

we

are committed to purchasing all our tea from sustainable sources. It

has

been become an increasing concern to many of our consumers of the

welfare

of people in developing countries as well as the environmental impact

on

surrounding eco-systems. The aim of our partnership is to ensure that

all

our tea meets social, economic and environmental standards to help

improve

the working conditions and livelihoods of our certified farmers as well

as

introducing environmentally friendly farming techniques to help

preserve

and protect the environment.

Our campaign includes two famous characters, our very own Monkey and

also

Johnny Vegas. We decided to use these two characters to promote this

partnership and the benefits of drinking tea in a light hearted and

humorous way. We research all of our TV adverts with a range of

consumers

who are likely to buy the product to ensure that the adverts aren’t

inappropriate or likely to cause offence. These adverts have proved to

be a

successful campaign in raising the awareness amongst our consumers.

As an advertiser we do not condone or promote any irresponsible

behaviour

and are disappointed with the actions displayed by Johnny Vegas at his

recent show. We hope that while his behaviour was inappropriate, it

will

not discourage you from supporting PG tips and the Rainforest Alliance.

We do appreciate your concerns and our PG tips Brand Manager has been

made

aware. I do trust the above has reassured you and thank you for taking

the

time and trouble to contact us.

Kind regards,

Kerrie Doyle

Careline Advisor

Unilever UK Limited

Registered in England & Wales; Company No 334527

Registered Office: Walton Court, Station Avenue, Walton-on-Thames,

Surrey

KT12 1UP

Hmmm. Basically ignored the point of my complaint, from what I can tell. Can we get even more people to complain to them? Somehow I don’t think they will do anything unless they are snowed under with complaints. The more the merrier, or so they say.

Kirsty // Posted 12 May 2008 at 5:52 pm

I got exactly the same response, Leigh but at least they actually acknowledged this time that I was complaining about Johnny Vegas and not the advert!

Mick Hannigan // Posted 14 May 2008 at 11:16 am

Hi Louise, you ask me to back up my statement that the Guardian’s claim that JV committed sexual assault had been discredited.

I came to that conclusion having read over a dozen “I was there” reports on the Guardian blog which questioned if not contradicted Mary O Hara’s report.

But that blog has now been taken down along with the original article.

I could post many of them here but would then be asking people to simply take my word that they were authentic posts. But I will post one account which went up yesterday here and which I think worth reading and reflecting on. It was posted by Meg (towards the end of the page).

[EDITED for brevity (link rather than full entry from other blog).]

Louise Livesey // Posted 14 May 2008 at 5:22 pm

Hi Mick, I read the same blog posts on the Guardian before they were taken down but came to very different conclusions. In fact very little said there contradicted the core of the claim that Vegas repeatedly pulled her skirt up and fondled her breasts. Meg’s post again doesn’t disagree with this (her words are I think he “ran his hands over her body” or similar). Like I said, whether or not the vulval-digital issue contact is resolved the other actions remain sexual assault on their own.

I also noted with interest that on the same page as Meg’s entry is your own which is identical to the one here. Are you working for Mr Vegas’s agents by any chance and spamming your way around the internet with the same comment? At the F Word we tend to prefer people who read and respond to what we are writing rather than people who just repeat the same comments everywhere.

Mick Hannigan // Posted 14 May 2008 at 6:01 pm

To answer your question, no I am not working with Mr. Vegas’ agents. Though I do find that response to my position from a serious blog such as this to be pretty depressing .

” He argues that Vegas has not committed a crime, therefore he must be in the pay of Vegas.”

Vegas already has a capable legal firm working for him. He has no need to employ me.

To suggest that I’m being paid is … well crass really! My motivation is an old-fashioned interest in concepts like “truth” and “justice”. Sounds very high-minded and all that and it’s not meant to be. I just have a problem with (cyber) lynch mobs. That and the belief that sexual assault is such a serious crime that the accusation should not be lightly made.

Kuja // Posted 14 May 2008 at 9:54 pm

Even some of the commenters who thought it was “just a joke” came up with a similar version of events to those who didn’t – like that one who laughed at the middle class people nearby who looked so uncomfortable and called the whole thing hilarious. That commenter still said that he had been groping her and taken it so far.

Besides, some people walked out in disgust. You don’t pay to go to one of those shows and walk out because of something mildly offensive. Another comedian shielded them with his coat as a joke – so what was Vegas doing to merit that?

nichola dickens // Posted 23 June 2008 at 12:57 am

wow, people need to stop knitting dungarees and get out more

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