LONDON — British DJ and broadcaster Tim Westwood, one of the biggest names in the U.K. rap and hip-hop scene, has stepped down from his show on radio station Capital Xtra until further notice, and had some upcoming live gigs canceled, after multiple women made allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Seven women have accused the 64-year-old DJ of opportunistic and predatory behavior for initiating unwanted sexual activity. The women, who were in their late teens or early 20s at the time, made the allegations in a joint investigation carried out by The Guardian newspaper and the BBC, Westwood’s former employer, and span a period of 25 years, dating from 1992 to 2017.
Westwood, who was a high-profile presenter on BBC radio between 1994 and 2013, first on Radio 1 and then Radio 1Xtra — where he regularly played host to some of hip-hop’s biggest stars, including Jay-Z, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West — “strenuously denies” the allegations.
A spokesperson for Westwood told the BBC that the DJ did not behave in the manner described and any suggestion that he acts, or has acted, in the way described would be false. Representatives for Westwood did not respond to emails or calls from Billboard.
Two of the women who spoke to The Guardian and BBC accuse Westwood of initiating unwanted sex after meeting with him to discuss wanting to pursue careers in the music industry. One was 19 at the time, she says. Westwood was in his 50s.
Another woman alleges she was aged 17 when she met the DJ (then in his mid-30s) and was subjected to unwanted oral sex. Four other women accuse Westwood of groping them as they posed for photographs with him at live events.
All seven women are Black and spoke to The Guardian and the BBC anonymously. Some work in the music industry, says the broadcaster. Their stories are featured in the BBC TV documentary Tim Westwood: Abuse of Power, which aired on April 26 in the United Kingdom.
One of the women, using the pseudonym Isabel, told the BBC she felt “completely powerless” and “very, very scared” when Westwood allegedly exposed his genitals to her in a car when she was 19. Isabel alleges the DJ then took her to an apartment and initiated sex. “I was literally frozen and couldn’t move,” she says in the documentary.
Another woman, identified as Pamela, describes being invited to meet Westwood in London when she was 20 to discuss the possibility of gaining work experience with him. She says the DJ picked her up from the train station, drove her to an apartment and initiated sex.
“I’m in London alone with this guy who is a lot older than me. Now, if I try to get out of it, who’s to say how he’s going to react, so I just submit to it,” she says. “It was disgusting, and I felt like shit afterwards. How have I let myself be subjected to that? That’s how I felt.”
A spokesperson for Global, the media company that owns U.K. radio station Capital Xtra, says following the claims made in the documentary Westwood had “stepped down” until further notice from presenting his current weekly radio show.
Since the allegations were made, upcoming DJ sets by Westwood at several U.K. venues, including the Rum Rum club in Birmingham, Empire nightclub in Bedford and Butlins in Bognor Regis, have been canceled. The events page from Westwood’s official website appears to have been removed.
Responding to the claims, the BBC says in a statement that “it is against all forms of inappropriate behavior and we are shocked to hear of these allegations.” The broadcaster goes on to say it has “strict codes of conduct for all those engaged by the BBC, including on-air presenters.”
On Wednesday, one day after the allegations surfaced, BBC director general Tim Davie described the women’s testimony as “powerful and appalling” and called for anyone else with evidence to come forward.
Speaking at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer spring conference, Davie, who became head of the BBC in 2020, said he had “seen no evidence of complaints” being made to BBC managers about Westwood’s behavior in the past.
“If people have evidence where things weren’t followed up, or they have concern in this area, bring it to us,” the director general said at the conference. “We want to investigate it.”
After starting his DJ career at London pirate radio station LWR in the early 1980s, Westwood went on to become one of the biggest names in the U.K. hip hop scene. He joined BBC Radio 1 in 1994, where he presented the station’s first dedicated rap show, and remained a key part of its evening schedule for over a decade.
He moved to BBC radio digital station 1Xtra in 2007, where he regularly presented the daily drive time show. He left the network in 2013 to join Global-owned Choice FM, later moving to Capital Xtra.
In 1999, Westwood was injured in a drive-by shooting in south London, after performing at an event in Brockwell Park. The DJ later said the incident was linked to gang members attempting to extort money and stop him from DJing in the area.
Westwood, who calls himself Big Dawg, is also a familiar face on British TV and hosted Pimp My Ride UK on MTV UK between 2005 and 2007. His YouTube channel, Tim Westwood TV, has 1.3 million subscribers. His most recent video, an interview with Nigerian singer Oxlade, was posted on April 20.
Allegations of inappropriate behavior by Westwood began circulating on social media in 2020. In a statement issued at the time, Westwood denied any wrongdoing, saying the “allegations are false and without any foundation.”
Stories about sexual assault allegations can be traumatizing for survivors of sexual assault. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can reach out to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The organization provides free, confidential support to sexual assault victims. Call RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) or visit the anti-sexual violence organization’s website for more information.