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Music stars cut links with Webster PR following sex abuse allegations

By | Published on Friday 3 November 2017

Kid Rock

A number of artists, including Kid Rock and Hank Williams Jr, have cut all ties with Nashville-based music PR agency Webster PR following the allegations of sexual assault made against its founder Kirt Webster.

As previously reported, a former country singer called Austin Rick has made a number of allegations of sexual misconduct against Webster, whose company provided PR services for the musician, who originally performed as Austin Cody.

Webster denies the allegations, though his company has come under considerable pressure since they were made. For a time it looked like the entire agency had shut down, though it then remerged under the new name of Westby Public Relations.

The firm said in a statement that “while Kirt Webster takes some time away from the business to focus on combating the egregious and untrue allegations made against him, the company’s work on behalf of its clients will continue under the leadership of Jeremy Westby, Kirt’s longstanding colleague”.

According to The Tennessean, since Rick made his allegations a total of ten former employees of Webster PR have come forward to state that the publicity firm had a “culture of consistent workplace abuse and harassment”. The ex-staff members, speaking anonymously, said that Webster “created a culture of fear and intimidation among his young staff that deterred workers from speaking out until now”.

Meanwhile, high profile clients are bailing on the PR firm.

In a statement provided to the Lefsetz Letter, Kid Rock said that he had not previously been aware of any allegations of misconduct being made against his publicist, who was – among other things – involved in the musician’s recent fake bid for the US Senate. But, Rock then confirmed, “we cancelled his and his companies’ services upon not only hearing about these, but other rumours that are starting to swirl”.

Rock added: “I hope to God this shit he is being accused of is not true, as he has been nothing but a good friend to me. But if it comes to light that it is, I will be the first to cut the head off the snake. Unfortunately, I believe sexual harassment is like cancer. We all know someone affected by it and it has to stop”.

According to Variety, Webster PR – now Westby Public Relations – began removing names from its online client list as the scandal continued to gain momentum, before taking the list offline entirely. Variety also reports that the latest indications from Westby suggest that he now plans to launch a new company entirely, rather than taking over Webster PR.

It’s not clear whether Dolly Parton, one of Webster’s most famous clients, has also cancelled his company’s services, though she has commented on Twitter, saying: “I’ve worked with Kirt Webster for many years and he has done a wonderful job. I am hoping that the accusations are not true”.