Victoria writer Daisy Goodwin claims she was ‘groped’ during Downing Street visit

The creator of ITV's Victoria says the incident happened while David Cameron was Prime Minister: "It didn't occur to me to report the incident"

Daisy Goodwin Victoria RT Fest Getty

Victoria screenwriter Daisy Goodwin has claimed that she was “groped” during a visit to Downing Street.

Advertisement

Writing in this week’s Radio Times, the creator of the ITV period drama claimed that an official “put his hand on my breast” during a meeting to discuss an idea for a TV programme. The incident took place while David Cameron was Prime Minister, she claimed.

“I had met the official at a dinner and he had followed up with an email,” she wrote in the Radio Times column. “As I waited to see him I drank in the aroma of Downing Street, which took me straight back to the boys’ public school I had attended – a sweaty combination of testosterone, socks and lust.

“The official, who was a few years younger than me, showed me into a room dominated by a portrait of Mrs T [Thatcher] and we sat at a table carved, he told me, from one piece of wood. Then to my surprise he put his feet on my chair (we were sitting side by side) and said that my sunglasses made me look like a Bond Girl.”

Goodwin claimed that despite trying to steer the conversation back to TV, at the end of the meeting the official groped her breast.

“I attempted to turn the conversation to turning exports into unmissable TV. At the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast,” she said. “I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said, ‘Are you actually touching my breast?’ He dropped his hand and laughed nervously. I swept out in what can only be called high dudgeon.”

Goodwin says that she never considered reporting the matter.

“I wasn’t traumatised, I was cross, but by the next day it had become an anecdote, The Day I Was Groped In Number 10 – an account of male delusion,” she said.

“It didn’t occur to me to report the incident, I was fine, after all, and who on earth would I report it to?”

However, Goodwin said that she has begun to reconsider her reaction following recent sexual assault allegations in Westminster and Hollywood.

“But now in the light of all the really shocking stories that have come out about abusive behaviour by men in power from Hollywood to Westminster, I wonder if my Keep Calm and Carry on philosophy, inherited from my parents, was correct? The answer is, I am not sure.

“I think humiliating the official was probably the appropriate punishment, but suppose he tried it on with someone less able to defend themselves?

“All I do know is that in writing Victoria, I have created a heroine who is the ultimate retort to the Harvey Weinsteins and lecherous officials of this world, a woman who could never be humiliated by a powerful man.

“To tell or not to tell is a moot point, but I’m sure that every woman should discover their inner monarch.”

A No10 spokesperson told RadioTimes.com, “Allegations such as this are taken very seriously. The Cabinet Office would look into any formal complaint, should one be made.”

Read Daisy Goodwin’s full column below.

In the late 1970s, when I was 15, I used to travel home from school on the East London line, and if the train was empty I sat in the guard’s carriage for safety. But one September day as I did my Greek homework I felt a hand between my legs. A hand, it turned out, that belonged to the guard. Fortunately my Liddell and Scott Greek dictionary made a good weapon, so I was able to repel him without difficulty.

When I told my parents, I assumed they would go straight to the police, but their attitude was, “These things happen and you just have to learn to deal with them.” They didn’t think the injury I had sustained was worth the trouble and possible humiliation of involving the police. At the time I thought their decision was unjust, but I soon forgot about it.

If the same thing were to happen to my teenage daughters now I would have no hesitation in reporting the man, my duty being to make sure that behaviour like that did not go unpunished. He might do something worse to someone else. And yet I wonder if it’s that simple.

A few years ago I was summoned to Downing Street during the Cameron administration to talk to an official about an idea for a television programme. I had met the official at a dinner and he had followed up with an email. As I waited to see him I drank in the aroma of Downing Street, which took me straight back to the boys’ public school I had attended – a sweaty combination of testosterone, socks and lust. The official, who was a few years younger than me, showed me into a room dominated by a portrait of Mrs T and we sat at a table carved, he told me, from one piece of wood. Then to my surprise he put his feet on my chair (we were sitting side by side) and said that my sunglasses made me look like a Bond Girl.

I attempted to turn the conversation to turning exports into unmissable TV. At the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast. I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said, “Are you actually touching my breast?”

He dropped his hand and laughed nervously. I swept out in what can only be called high dudgeon. I wasn’t traumatised, I was cross, but by the next day it had become an anecdote, The Day I Was Groped In Number 10 – an account of male delusion. It didn’t occur to me to report the incident, I was fine, after all, and who on earth would I report it to? I had learnt my lesson only too well. These things did happen and I had indeed learnt how to deal with them. But now in the light of all the really shocking stories that have come out about abusive behaviour by men in power from Hollywood to Westminster, I wonder if my Keep Calm and Carry on philosophy, inherited from my parents, was correct? The answer is, I am not sure.

I think humiliating the official was probably the appropriate punishment, but suppose he tried it on with someone less able to defend themselves? All I do know is that in writing Victoria, I have created a heroine who is the ultimate retort to the Harvey Weinsteins and lecherous officials of this world, a woman who could never be humiliated by a powerful man.

Advertisement

To tell or not to tell is a moot point, but I’m sure that every woman should discover their inner monarch.