Legal Cheek

Allen & Overy dragged into Harvey Weinstein scandal over role negotiating alleged victim’s non-disclosure agreement

Magic circle giant named in ‘highly uncomfortable’ article

A former assistant to Harvey Weinstein has revealed the “heavy emotional toll” negotiating a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Allen & Overy took on her after she accused the media mogul of sexual harassment.

Zelda Perkins broke the terms of the NDA to tell her story to the Financial Times, which includes allegations the disgraced Hollywood producer would walk around the room naked in her presence.

Following the alleged sexual assault of a fellow staffer at Miramax, both Perkins and her colleague walked out of the production outfit’s Soho office in the late 1990s to go seek legal advice from media specialists Simons Muirhead & Burton.

Miramax instructed lawyers at Allen & Overy to negotiate with Perkins. Eventually, on the advice of her legal team, she accepted £125,000 in damages and signed a complex NDA. Financial settlement aside, it’s the former PA’s account of the 12-hour late night negotiations at Allen & Overy’s London office that will catch lawyers’ eyes.

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“I was made to feel ashamed for disclosing his behaviour and assault, and expected to name those I had spoken to, as if they too were guilty of something,” she told the newspaper. Perkins continued:

“At 24-years-old in a room full of lawyers I felt unsupported by my legal team. Looking back I understand they were following correct practice but at the time I felt totally isolated… I was pretty broken after the negotiation process.

The piece specifically mentions employment lawyer Mark Mansell, who is still a partner at the firm. Allen & Overy declined to comment when contacted by Legal Cheek.

Perkins claims the NDA included her demands Weinstein receive therapy and that a new complaints procedure be rolled out at Miramax. The agreement — which Perkins says she wasn’t even allowed a copy of — saw the appointment of three special “complaint handlers” to investigate future harassment allegations. The report continued:

“Crucially, if a complaint against Mr Weinstein occurred within two years of the contract and it resulted in a settlement of either £35,000 or six months’ salary Miramax agreed to report the matter to Disney — or to dismiss Mr Weinstein.”

Unsurprisingly, Perkins’ story has attracted a lot of attention on social media. Catrin Griffiths, editor of The Lawyer magazine, described the article as “highly uncomfortable” for Allen & Overy.