All nine members of Equity’s minority ethnic members committee have resigned in protest at the union’s decision to issue an apology to actor Laurence Fox.
The union sent out an apology to the actor on March 13, in a statement in which it apologised for tweets sent out by the committee, which labelled Fox a “disgrace” and called on the industry to denounce the actor.
Equity later deleted the tweets, and said they had been sent out without consultation with the union.
However, all members of the committee – now known as Equity’s Race Equality Committee – have resigned en masse, including chair Daniel York Loh. The committee also included Irvine Iqbal, Jassa Ahluwalia, Miriam Babooram, Rebecca Boey, Julie Cheung-Inhin, Matt Lim, Debra Tidd and Nana St Bartholomew-Brown.
York Loh said: “I’ll never know how Equity have managed to get themselves apologising for tweets they never sent and in fact they deleted within hours. But the fact is that, as a committee, we weren’t consulted on this and it feels that we’re oddly peripheral in a very strange exercise in power-play and appeasement in my opinion.”
He added: “To be absolutely clear, as far as we were concerned the tweets we issued were the opinions of our committee and we thought they reflected the opinions of the tiny minority ethnic section of the membership who voted for us. I can remember the individual in question decrying that Equity could make statements without ‘polling the membership’. Well, Equity didn’t make those statements and Equity has just done a whole load of stuff for this person without polling the membership. Don’t ask me to explain that.”
York Loh has served on the committee for more than a decade.
“If I’m really honest though it’s always felt more like a box-ticking exercise than anything else and our committee is there to look good in photos without really raising any serious or difficult issues (though of course we have, time and time again). Now Equity does not have a minority ethnic members or race equality committee,” he said.
He added that he did not know how to live “with being silenced and apologised on behalf of”.
“There’s something slightly surreal about that. Especially when it’s supposedly being done in the name of free speech,” he added.
Writing on Twitter, Iqbal said the union had failed to support them, but that he had been honoured to work with “a group of committed and hard-working people”.
In its statement apologising to Fox, Equity said: “We are sorry that in the tweets he was called a disgrace by Equity. It was a mistake for Equity, as an organisation, to criticise him in this way. Nothing in Equity’s later statement was intended as a slur on his character or views, or to suggest he should be denied the ability to work. We would like to make that clear.”
The minority ethnic members committee’s tweets were sent out in January, describing Fox’s appearance on Question Time. They claimed he was was “playing to the gallery” and labelled him a “disgrace to our industry”.