Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon has said she was assaulted by an unnamed film director when she was 16.
In a speech at an Elle Women in Hollywood event on Monday, the Legally Blonde and Walk the Line star said she felt “true disgust at the director”.
And she felt “anger… at the agents and producers who made me feel silence was a condition of my employment”.
She said she had suffered multiple other “experiences of harassment and sexual assault” during her career.
She didn’t go into detail about her experiences as a 16-year-old, but added: “I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t.”
The A-lister, who also stars in TV series Big Little Lies, said she didn’t speak about those experiences “very often”.
But she went on: “After hearing all the stories these past few days… the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.
“And I’ve just spoken to so many actresses and writers, and particularly women who’ve had similar experiences, and many of them have bravely gone public with their stories.
“And that truth is very encouraging to me and to everyone out there in the world because you can only heal by telling the truth.”
‘A new normal’
The actress said she didn’t sleep before giving her speech because of “the feelings I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action”.
Patients in Northern Ireland are waiting three years to see a consultant about having surgery following a GP referral.
The BBC has obtained exclusive figures showing long waiting times before a decision to operate.
In Northern Ireland, targets say most patients should be seen within 9 weeks and none should wait over 15 weeks.
Yet some patients are waiting 155 weeks or more to see a specialist for spinal conditions.
A spokesman for the Health and Social Care board said it was ‘unacceptable’ that waiting lists had grown so long.
Longer and longer waits
The health service has not met the targets for several years.
Figures obtained by Freedom of Information requests in April this year and seen by the BBC show that in one of Northern Ireland’s five healthcare trusts, the minimum waiting time for an appointment with an orthopaedic consultant specialising in spinal conditions was 155 weeks.
For upper limb conditions, the minimum wait was 127 weeks.
By June, waits for spinal appointments at the same trust had risen to 159 weeks.
Megan Fleming, who is 14 years old, needs an urgent operation to correct a curvature, or scoliosis, of her spine.
Her health is deteriorating fast, and she has trouble breathing. Despite her condition, the teenager from Carrickfergus continues to go to dance classes, but says her future is on hold until her operation, which surgeons have told her will be a year away.
Her mother Karen said: “Megan loves dancing. It’s just her life at the minute. She just wants to dance.
“But at the minute she needs the surgery to help her. You could see the consultant was absolutely gutted and you could see it was hurting to say a year, but it’s out of his control.
“I’ve paid taxes, I’ve paid national insurance. So why can’t I get the surgery that she deserves?”
Megan and Karen are now trying to raise the £50,000 that her surgery will cost privately, fearing that the long wait will put Megan’s long-term health at risk.
Dr Ursula Brennan, a GP in Belfast, said that seeking private healthcare was a decision more and more patients were having to make in the current climate.
“You’re going to have to wait, and it may be several months. It may be into 52 weeks, or 80 weeks, or beyond.
“It’s very difficult to turn this conversation to – and these are our elderly folk – that you may have to use your life savings to actually improve your quality of life.”
When asked about the long waits, which are far higher than in other parts of the UK, the deputy chief executive of the Health and Social Care Board, Michael Bloomfield, said: “That is absolutely unacceptable, and that’s why we need to clearly illustrate the need for reform.
“There are about 35,000 more surgical procedures required than the health service currently has capacity for.
“Without the additional funding to see those patients or have them treated in different ways, it is regrettably inevitable that waiting times will increase to the position that they are now in.”
The political commentator Deirdre Heenan is working on a report with the Nuffield Trust into the emerging healthcare crisis in Northern Ireland.
She said: “In the last nine months we’ve had no government in Northern Ireland. We’re in a political vacuum.
“This system reverts to keeping the show on the road, and any ideas about transformation or change are simply mothballed.”
“It is not clear that the public are in a position to call for change. They may not have good information about how well the service meets their needs, and have not necessarily been made part of the long conversations about change, which as a result can sound like it brings bad news.
“But the impact on patients of the current impasse in implementing necessary changes is stark. In June this year, for example, one in six of the entire Northern Ireland population was currently on an outpatient or inpatient waiting list. In England the figure is one in 14.
“And over 64,000 people had been waiting over a year for their first outpatient appointment – a quarter of all those on the waiting list. In England, by contrast, around 1,500 people were still waiting over a year – just 2 per cent of the number in Northern Ireland for a population over 30 times larger.”
On Wednesday, the BBC will be publishing its NHS tracker, which allows users to look at how their local hospitals are performing on waiting times for A&E, cancer and planned operations.
A drug-based therapy appears to restore breathing in rats paralysed from the neck down by a spinal injury, according to scientists.
They hope their “exciting but early” findings could ultimately help free patients from ventilators.
The pioneering work, in Cell Reports, suggests the brain may not be needed for respiration if a nerve pathway in the spine can be awakened.
More studies are now needed to better understand and exploit this system.
‘No brain’ breathing
Normally, messages to and from the brain control breathing.
If the spinal cord is damaged high up in the neck, these messages can’t get through and a person will need mechanical assistance or a ventilator to breathe.
Experts have been looking at ways to repair spinal cord damage to reconnect with the brain, but the latest therapeutic approach, being explored at Case Western Reserve University, is entirely different.
Dr Jerry Silver and colleagues believe they have found an alternative nerve pathway for breathing in the spinal cord itself.
The researchers used a drug and a light therapy known as optogenetics to dial up this spinal system.
It appeared to control the body’s main muscle of respiration – the diaphragm, a dome-shaped sheet of muscle that sits underneath the lungs, separating the chest from the abdomen.
The live adult rats that they studied had severed spinal cords, meaning the brain could not be the source of the diaphragm movement or breathing that the researchers saw after they administered the therapy.
They believe the treatment works by stopping other nerve signals that would normally silence the spinal system that they found.
Dr Silver said: “This is a primitive response that has been kept in the spinal cord for emergencies, like gasping and screaming in response to danger.”
Although the researchers say the movements they saw resembled breathing, it’s not clear yet if it would be enough to sustain life. They plan more animal studies to check.
Dr Silver said: “Ultimately, the goal of this research would be to free people with these neck injuries from having to use mechanical ventilators.
“Infections and other complications from mechanical ventilators are a leading cause of death after spinal cord injuries.”
Dr Thomas Becker, an expert in neuroregeneration at Edinburgh Medical School, said: “This is an important discovery on the fundamental working of the spinal cord.
“Understanding the spinal network is the first step toward future therapies.
“This knowledge could be used for future therapies to restore breathing in patients who lost nerve connections from the brain as a consequence of spinal cord injury.”
“It was extremely clear to me when I walked into the actress’s profession that my humiliation and role as a lesser, sexually-harassed being was the norm,” she said.
“I became aware… that it is a universal thing that a director can touch and harass his actresses at will. When I turned the director down repeatedly he sulked and punished me.”
Von Trier’s denial was accompanied by a statement from Peter Aalbaek Jensen, the producer of Dancer in the Dark, who told Jyllands-Posten that he and Von Trier “were the victims”.
“That woman was stronger than both Lars von Trier and me and our company put together,” he said. “She dictated everything and was about to close a movie of 100m kroner [$16m].”
‘Clear sexual intention’
Dancer in the Dark went on to win the Palme d’Or at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, where Bjork also picked up the best actress prize.
But rumours about the troubled production circulated in the movie press. Bjork was alleged to have walked off the set for two days, while more outlandish stories suggested she had eaten her costume and taken to living in the woods.
She said she was providing a fuller explanation of her experiences, in part, to combat those stories.
“It feels extremely difficult to come out with something of this nature into the public, especially when immediately ridiculed by offenders,” the star said.
“I fully sympathize with everyone who hesitates, even for years. But I feel it is the right time especially now when it could make a change.”
She went on to claim the director “stroked me, sometimes for minutes, against my wishes” and made “constant awkward paralysing unwanted whispered sexual offers”.
When she demanded that he stop, “he exploded and broke a chair in front of everyone on set”, she said.
When filming in Sweden, she alleged, “he threatened to climb from his room’s balcony over to mine in the middle of the night with a clear sexual intention, while his wife was in the room next door”.
Bjork added that attempting to dismiss her account by accusing her of “being difficult” paralleled the “Weinstein methods” of “bullying” victims who dared to speak up.
“I have never eaten a shirt,” she continued. “Not sure that is even possible.”
Following the singer’s initial accusations, Von Trier’s assistant told the BBC: “Lars declines the accusations Bjork has made, but doesn’t wish to comment any further.”
He has yet to respond to a request for a response to the latest allegations.
One of the UK’s aims is for a new security treaty with the EU, and Ms Rudd told the Commons Home Affairs Committee contingency plans were being made in case this was not in place by the UK’s departure in March 2019.
Asked whether, if there was “no deal of any form”, Britain would be as safe and secure as it currently is, she replied: “I think it is unthinkable there would be no deal.
“It is so much in their interests as well as ours – in their communities’, families’, tourists’ interests to have something in place.”
Ms Rudd also said it was “unthinkable” EU citizens would be asked to leave the UK after Brexit, but was unable to offer guarantees while negotiations continue.
Mr Davis was asked about a “no deal” scenario as he updated MPs on Monday’s dinner between Theresa May and EU officials.
Reaching agreement with the EU is “by far and away the best option” he said, adding: “The maintenance of the option of no deal is for both negotiating reasons and sensible security – any government doing its job properly will do that.”
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said there was no reason to fear the impact on the economy of no deal being agreed, saying it “would not be the Armageddon that people project”.
He told the BBC: “I think that we need to concentrate on the realities, get rid of the hyperbole around the debate and focus on the fact that if we can get a good agreement with the EU, both Britain and the EU would be better off for it.”
A UK-EU free trade deal cannot be discussed until the EU deems sufficient progress has been made on other matters and gives the green light.
In his statement to MPs, Mr Davis said the UK was “reaching the limits of what we can achieve” in Brexit talks without moving on to talk about trade.
He urged EU leaders to give counterpart Michel Barnier the green light at this week’s EU summit to begin trade talks.
Mr Barnier said he wanted to speed up talks but “it takes two to accelerate”.
This was a reference to comments made by Mrs May after her dinner with the EU’s chief negotiator, in which she said the two sides had agreed on the need to “accelerate” the process.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Barnier said a “constructive dynamic” was needed over the next two months but “there was a lot of work to do” and issues must be tackled in the “right order”.
“At the moment we are still not yet at the first step which is securing citizen rights, guaranteeing the long term success of the good Friday agreement and finalising the accounts,” he said.
The talks – which were held as EU member states prepare to assess progress so far on Thursday – were said to be “constructive and friendly” but the UK’s financial settlement with the EU continues to be a sticking point and the EU will not discuss trade until this has been settled.
Along with the UK’s “divorce bill”, the EU is insisting agreement be reached on citizens’ rights and what happens on the Northern Ireland border before agreeing to open talks on the free trade deal Mrs May’s government wants to strike.
In his Commons statement, Mr Davis urged the EU to give Mr Barnier a mandate to start discussing its future relations with the UK, including trade and defence, telling MPs he was “ready to move the negotiations on”.
He suggested the UK was “reaching the limits of what we can achieve without consideration of the future relationship”.
“Our aim remains to provide as much certainty to business and citizens on both sides. To fully provide that certainty, we must be able to talk about the future.”
On citizens’ rights, he said key issues such as the rules on family reunion, the right to return, the onward movement of British expats in Europe and the right of EU residents to export benefits had still to be settled.
Announcing that EU citizens who currently have permanent residence in the UK would not have to go through the full process of re-applying before Brexit, he said the UK had consistently “gone further and provided more certainty” on their status than the EU had done.
While the UK had “some way to secure the new partnership with the EU”, he was “confident we are on the right path”.
Speaking in the Commons earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he thought a reported bill of £100bn was too high and urged the EU to “get serious” and agree to settle the citizens’ rights question.
For Labour, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said EU and UK citizens were still no wiser over their future while it “appeared the deadlock over the financial settlement is such that the two sides are barely talking”.
“Nobody should underestimate the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in. At the first hurdle, the government has failed to hit a very important target.”
The winner of the Man Booker Prize is to be revealed by the Duchess of Cornwall in a ceremony later.
Six authors are in the running for the prestigious £50,000 fiction award.
They include bookies’ favourite Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders – about Abraham Lincoln’s grief after the death of his 11-year-old son.
Scottish novelist Ali Smith is shortlisted for Autumn, the first of a quartet, alongside debut authors Emily Fridlund and Fiona Mozley.
The list is completed by US author Paul Auster and Pakistan-born Mohsin Hamid.
Mozley, a PhD student at the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies, is one of three female writers on a shortlist that is evenly divided between the sexes.
She’s nominated for Elmet, which she started writing on her phone while commuting in London – and which she now finds herself selling to customers at the bookshop in York where she works part time.
It’s a family drama exploring the loss of rural community in northern England.
Hamid, who was shortlisted in 2007 in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is once more in contention thanks to Exit West, while Smith is shortlisted for the fourth time for her book, which is “in part about Brexit”.
There are three US authors on the shortlist – Fridlund, Saunders and Auster.
Auster’s book 4321 is set against the background of the civil rights movement, while Fridlund’s History of Wolves looks at the effect of “neglectful parenting”.
If Lincoln in the Bardo does win for Saunders, who is best known for his short stories and novellas, he will be only the second American to win the prize.