A number of committee members representing the actors’ union Equity have resigned after it apologised to Laurence Fox for calling him a ‘disgrace’ after his Question Time performance.
Fox appeared on the BBC programme to deny that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, had been the victim of racism.
He said: ‘We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe. It’s not racism. It’s so easy to just throw your charge of racism at everybody and it’s really starting to get boring now.’
The audience member then described Fox as a ‘white, privileged male’, to which he responded ‘to call me a white, privileged male is to be racist’.
The acting union’s race committee said in its series of tweets it was ‘extremely disturbed’ Fox had been given a platform to ‘berate and bully women of colour attempting to discuss issues of race and gender discrimination’.
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The tweets claimed Fox was a ‘disgrace to our industry’ and said he had ‘occupied a highly advantaged position’, but added he had appeared to ‘damn any recognition of that privilege as the very racism he claims is exaggerated when people of colour try to discuss it’.
They said Fox was guilty of ‘a disgraceful playing to the gallery, a populist tirade, with women of colour being used as cannon fodder’.
‘We call on all Equity members to unequivocally denounce Laurence Fox and his comments’.
Fox had complained to his fans that ‘Equity called (amongst other things) for actors to denounce me’.
He added: ‘This has been very hard to deal with, given that members weren’t polled before these tweets were sent out.’
Equity said the tweets were sent without consultation and removed them, something they acknowledge broke union rules by removing them, but they also issued an apology for producing them in the first place.
It 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 that he should be denied the ability to work. We would like to make that clear.
‘Equity and Laurence Fox condemn prejudice unequivocally in all its forms.’
Shortly after Equity’s Race Equality Committee announced they had all resigned – including the chair.
Daniel York Loh tweeted: ‘I’ve resigned as Equity REC chair over this. Equity and Laurence Fox can issue as many joint statements and apologies as they like. It’s nothing to do with me and I apologise for nothing #NotInMyName.’
A subsequent statement said Equity had a proud ‘tradition of fighting racism and campaigning for equality and diversity in the entertainment industries’.
‘The union has rules that are a protection for both the union as an organisation and its members. These rules are not easy bedtime reading and sometimes they are inadvertently broken. It was a mistake to criticise a member of the profession without consultation with the union,’ they said.
Following the apology, he said: ‘Hopefully this might an opportunity for us to continue to celebrate diversity in all its forms. Including diversity of opinion.’