Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein could be stripped of his British honour following the allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him, Downing Street has suggested.
The Hollywood producer was awarded an honorary CBE in 2004 for services to the British film industry as he worked on a string of films that won Oscars and BAFTAs.
But as Weinstein faced new claims of serial rape, Theresa May’s spokesman signalled on Wednesday that he could lose the honour if found to have brought the system “into disrepute”.
In No.10′s strongest intervention yet in the controversy, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman stressed just how “unacceptable” she viewed the allegations against Weinstein and praised the “courage” of women who had come forward.
Downing Street’s words came as a group of senior Labour politicians urged the Honours Forfeiture Committee to act swiftly to start the process of stripping away the CBE.
BAFTA, the British equivalent of the Oscars, also announced it was suspending Weinstein from its membership.
Later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - which hosts the Oscars - said the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein are “repugnant” and “abhorrent” and it will be holding a meeting on Saturday to discuss any action to be taken.
Barack and Michelle Obama became the latest high profile political figures to condemn the former movie producer, saying that they were “disgusted” by the reports.
The disgraced Hollywood producer faced new claims on Tuesday night that he had sexually harassed actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, along with many other women.
Weinstein has denied the charges of non-consensual sex “unequivocally”. In a statement, his spokeswoman said: “Mr Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”
The PM’s official spokesman said that May found the latest reports “deeply concerning”.
“Any unwanted sexual activity is completely unacceptable and any allegations should be fully investigated.
“Anyone who comes forward to report these kind of allegations should be praised for their courage.”
He added: “The independent Honours Forfeiture Committee considers cases when the honours system is brought into disrepute. Their discussions are confidential. It’s right that we let them get on with their work.”
British MPs from all parties have urged the committee to take action.
Former Tory Cabinet minister Maria Miller said it should consider the case, while former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman said: “These allegations cast a shadow over all the other people who proudly have CBE after their name”.
An open letter to the Prime Minister demanding action was signed by shadow ministers Chi Onwurah, Jack Dromey and Kevin Brennan. Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Dawn Butler and Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party chair Jess Phillips also demanded the honour be removed.
A statement posted on the official Bafta website read: “In light of recent very serious allegations, Bafta has informed Harvey Weinstein that his membership has been suspended, effective immediately.”