Tom Meighan’s Kasabian Departure Leaves A Sour Taste

Tom Meighan’s Kasabian Departure Leaves A Sour Taste

Fans have a right to feel let down...

Kasabian have always been a fans’ band. Never critical darlings, their hodge-podge of arena-level riffs and scorching electronics lacked subtlety, but seemed to aim straight for the gut. A supremely addictive live experience, they’ve toured some of the country’s biggest venues, and five of their six studio albums have rocketed to number one on the charts.

Fans have a reason, then, to feel enormously disturbed by the past 24 hours. Frontman Tom Meighan stepped down from the Leicester group – seemingly by “mutual consent” - with Kasabian sharing a short, terse, but sympathetic statement on their social channels. Citing “personal reasons”, it seemed clear all was not well with the frontman, with such a phrase often being used as a dog whistle reference for mental health issues and addiction. 

Tom Meighan’s own statement, short though it was, seemed to corroborate this. “Following today’s announcement,” he wrote to fans, “I just want you all to know that I am doing well.”

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By lunchtime the following day, however, this narrative has been shattered. Tom Meighan had in fact been arrested for assaulting his partner during an incident back in April, and was scheduled to appear in Leicester Magistrate’s Court.

What emerged from the court hearing was harrowing: ex-partner Vikki Ager was subjected to a “sustained assault”, dragged by the ankles out into their garden, and left with multiple bruises across her body. In a truly heartbreaking turn of events, the 999 call was made by a distressed child desperate for help, with CCTV footage played to the court. It’s said Tom Meighan wept when he was confronted with the footage.

The singer's lawyer called the court appearance "a personal humiliation" adding: "Music has been a great passion in his life and to lose the opportunity to play with his band is a huge personal loss, but something he accepts is of his own making."

Making a final decision, the judge said that the frontman could have been sent to prison, but opted instead to hand Tom Meighan a sentence of 200 hours of service in the community.

It’s absolutely vital when discussing these cases to deal purely with facts. Vikki Ager told authorities she did not want the prosecution to continue, while Caroline Flack’s name was mentioned in an attempt to block the publication of the couple’s address. The seemingly light nature of the sentence – Tom Meighan could have faced prison, but did not receive a jail term – has caused opprobrium online, and this shines a light on the difficulty faced in bringing these offences to light.

Around 750,000 domestic abuse related crimes are reported in this country each year, but only around one third result in arrest. One of the impacts of lockdown – when this offence occurred – has been a huge surge in domestic violence, with Refuge stating that figures rose ten-fold during this period, sparking a 957% rise in web traffic to their official advice website.

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This is the backdrop of the statements made by Kasabian and Tom Meighan. Purely and simply, how can the frontman be “doing well” the night before a court appearance for domestic violence? How can the band wish the singer well in his battle with “personal” issues when those same issues result in a terrified child phoning for police assistance as their mother is being subjected to what the court confirmed was a “sustained assault”?

The acceptance of well-wishes from fans now appears wholly disingenuous, and remarkably cynical. The cold-blooded wording of the statements have now brought condemnation for the band, with Kasabian facing fierce and sustained criticism from their fans.

But it goes beyond this – cases such as these will undoubtedly have an impact on whether domestic abuse is reported to the authorities. It’s for this reason that Women’s Aid have chosen to criticise both the band and their former frontman, calling their actions “disappointing”.

“Kasabian say the reason their lead singer was leaving the band was due to ‘personal reasons that affected his behaviour’. Today he pleaded guilty to assaulting his former fiancée in front of a child. There is no excuse for abuse”.

At the finish of their statement Kasabian explained that they would “not be commenting further”. It’s clear that their actions could have very real repercussions for people in vulnerable situations. With fans and charities asking powerful questions, this isn’t a conversation they can shut down.

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