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Mel B ‘deeply disappointed’ as convicted abuser Tom Meighan eligible for Brit Awards 2024

Exclusive: Spice Girls star and anti-domestic violence campaigner condemns ‘shocking’ revelation that former Kasabian frontman could be nominated for the awards show next year

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 18 December 2023 13:09 GMT
Mel B discusses domestic abuse on Good Morning Britain

Spice Girls star Mel B says she is shocked and disapointed after a singer convicted of domestic assault appeared as one of the artists eligible for a Brit Award next year, while a rapper facing a rape trial could also be nominated.

Tom Meighan, the former frontman for Leicester-formed rock band Kasabian, was among the eligible acts for next year’s ceremony as voters – comprising music critics and other leading industry figures – took to the polls last week.

The singer, 42, was convicted of domestic assault after pleading guilty to attacking his now-wife, Vikki Ager, in 2020.

He is eligible for Album of the Year, British Rock/Alternative Act, and Artist of the Year following the release of his solo album, The Reckoning, in May this year.

“I am deeply disappointed that an organisation so highly respected within the music industry should make a choice like this,” Melanie Brown, 48, told The Independent of Meighan’s spot on the longlist.

“You have to think what kind of message are you sending out to people when crimes of violence against women can be committed and then that person could be rewarded as part of a massively high profile awards event. It’s shocking to me.”

Meanwhile, rapper Slowthai – real name Tyron Frampton – is eligible for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, and Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Act. following the release of his third record, Ugly, in March.

In June, the 29-year-old appeared in court where he denied two charges of rape. The musician is accused of raping a woman twice in September 2021, and is due in court next year.

Melanie Brown won five Brit Awards during her time with the Spice Girls (Getty)

Brown, who rose to fame in the early Nineties as a member of chart-dominating pop group the Spice Girls, is the recipient of a number of Brit Awards herself, as well as a prominent campaigner against domestic violence.

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She has frequently spoken about the impact of the abuse she alleges took place during her marriage to Stephen Belafonte, and published a memoir – Brutally Honest – about her experiences in 2018.

Belafonte has repeatedly denied the claims against him made by the singer. They reached a private settlement in 2017.

“I am not only Patron of Women’s Aid but I have just completed three new chapters of my book, Brutally Honest, which charts my journey through abuse and the six years it has taken me to deal with the trauma of that abuse,” Brown said. “I am still dealing with that trauma and I know I am not alone.”

The Spice Girls at the Brit Awards in 1997 (Mel B centre) (PA)

A spokesperson from Women’s Aid told The Independent: “The decision by the Brits organisers to include on their voting longlist for 2024 a man who has been convicted of domestic assault will have an impact on survivors of domestic abuse.

“His inclusion sends a message to those living with the trauma of experiencing these crimes that they are not taken seriously by society, particularly the music industry.

“The organisers need to think about what happens if this man is shortlisted, how it would feel to survivors watching him celebrated in such a public way, and how they would manage this on the night. With domestic abuse being frighteningly prevalent and affecting millions of women and girls in the UK, we would urge the organisers to be mindful of this when planning their event in March.”

“The Brit Awards condemns any form of sexual violence or harassment,” a spokesperson for the Brit Awards told The Independent.

“We also believe in the rule of law and due process. Artists become eligible based on their musical impact in the previous 12 months.

“Members of the 1,200 strong BRITs Voting Academy (drawn from across the music industry and media) are then invited to make informed decisions to create the shortlist of nominees, and the eventual category winners. The Voting Academy is reviewed annually, as are the eligibility rules.”

Rapper Slowthai pleaded not guilty to two charges of rape (AFP via Getty Images)

The Brit Awards voting rules state that the organisation “strongly supports the principle of artistic freedom of expression”.

However, it adds that it “reserves the right, in its absolute discretion, to deem ineligible any artist(s) or recorded music product(s) which it considers either may breach the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and/or that may bring the Brit Awards into disrepute”.

In the wake of the rape charges, Slowthai was quietly removed from a number of summer festival lineups, including Glastonbury, and Reading and Leeds.

After Meighan pleaded guilty to domestic assault, his former bandmates issued a statement announcing he was no longer a member of Kasabian.

“No one in the band wanted this to happen,” the band’s remaining members said. “We have all worked so hard for the past twenty three years and had big plans for our future together. We’re completely heartbroken.

“But we were left with no choice but to ask Tom to leave the band. There is absolutely no way we can condone his assault conviction. Domestic violence and abuse of any kind is totally unacceptable.”

Meighan wrote at length about his conviction for assault in 2021, claiming that he accepted the loss of his career as a consequence of his actions.

“My career is superficial and it has a shelf life,” he said. “Breaking the stigma of domestic abuse will not happen if it continues to be treated lightly. But if anything I have to say helps someone before they reach their breaking point, I think that has to be a good thing.”

(Rex Features)

In the same post shared to Medium, Meighan said that he had always struggled with his mental health, along with alcohol and drug abuse, but hit “rock bottom” in 2020.

“Last year, in April 2020, I did something I will never forgive myself for: I physically assaulted my now wife Vikki in row fulled by alcohol [sic],” he wrote. “It was totally unacceptable. In fact, it makes me feel sick every time I think about it.

“I didn’t recognise myself anymore. I had hurt the woman I love. There are no excuses for what happened. I’m deeply ashamed of what I did. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s not in my nature to be violent and it had never happened before. But my failure to address the issues within myself led me to breaking point.”

Meighan said that being arrested was a “turning point” in his life, writing: “It was the wake-up call I needed to get help… Having to watch the video revealing the reality of what I’d done repulsed me. I pleaded guilty straight away to everything.

“The shock set in. I was shaken to the core… I could not bear the thought that Viks was frightened or that she had been hurt. To this day, even now I struggle with how I made her feel that night.”

Since then, Meighan has been attempting a career comeback as a solo artist, and was booked as a support act for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds tour, performing ahead of the Oasis star's show in Birmingham on Friday (15 December).

The Independent has contacted Meighan’s representative for comment.

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