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Campaigners are calling for a clampdown on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevent victims of harassment and bullying from speaking out.

Speaking at the Creative Coalition Festival, Time’s Up UK chair Dame Heather Rabbatts - a former BBC governer, Channel 4 education head and Football Association director - said more needed to be down to protect freelancers in TV, film and theatre.

Warning that “talent is preyed upon by people in powerful positions,” Rabbatts said it was “crucial” that legislation be introduced to stop the “misuse” of NDAs and prevent online abuse, and to have greater regulation and licensing and to enforce standards and accountability.

Inclusion at senior levels was also needed to help prevent further abuses, she said.

Time’s Up advocates strengthening existing codes of conduct and ensuring the use of intimacy on-set co-ordinators where appropriate.

Zelda Perkins, co-founder of the Can’t Buy My Silence campaign, branded NDAs “one of the most damaging weapons in the toolbox of a perpetrator”.

Pointing out that the informal nature of the creative industries particularly risks abuse going unpunished, Perkins added: “They take away victim’s voices and careers but people don’t realise that until after they have signed them and can’t ask for help.”

Next month, Women Equalities Select Committee chair Maria Miller is to present a bill to parliament that would prevent companies from using NDAs.

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