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HomeBollywoodKen Loach's Suspension From Bectu Overturned Amid Row At Union

Ken Loach’s Suspension From Bectu Overturned Amid Row At Union

EXCLUSIVE: Ken Loach has been restored to a decision-making role at Bectu after his shock suspension last year, but a bitter internal row at the UK’s biggest film and TV union shows no sign of abating.

Deadline revealed in December that Loach, the esteemed BAFTA-winning British film director, was ousted from Bectu’s Writers, Producers & Directors (WPD) branch committee after a 60-year association with the union. Two others were also suspended and six more members faced disciplinary measures.

An appeals board at Bectu’s parent union Prospect has now reversed the suspension, meaning Loach and others can be restored to committee roles. Loach told Deadline that he was relieved that “commonsense had prevailed” and the process had underlined the importance of transparency within trade unions.

Loach and his colleagues were disciplined over how the branch oversaw the resignation of a representative who wrote a letter raising questions about the leadership of Mike Clancy, the boss of Prospect.

Prospect’s appeals board found that WPD branch officers “seriously erred” when they treated the representative’s hurried statement as the “equivalent of a formal resignation” and not enough was done to “establish clarity and reach agreement.”

But the judgment, seen by Deadline, said the punishment of suspension did not fit the crime. Prospect’s disciplinary panel gave “insufficient weight” to the context in which WPD branch officers made their decision. In 2022, for example, they were “strongly criticised” for not responding promptly and robustly to inappropriate emails sent to branch members in the past.

The judgment made no mention of WPD officers engaging in “bullying and discrimination” after Prospect claimed last year that this was part of the grounds for suspension. Loach said the allegation was “groundless” and Prospect had not produced evidence to support its claim.

The issue is the latest flashpoint in years-long tensions at Bectu after the union was merged with Prospect in 2017. Bectu stalwarts, including Loach, believe film and TV workers have not been well-served by the merger and others have complained of a clash of cultures.

Sources said WPD branch members are viewed as troublemakers by Prospect and have been unfairly targeted by Clancy. “He saw an opportunity to get rid of the most vocal people at Bectu. It was a hostile act,” said a source familiar with the matter. “We live to fight another day.”

Prospect did little to calm tensions in a statement to Deadline. A spokesperson said: “The committee upheld the substantive grounds of the [Prospect] national executive committee findings on the inappropriate behaviour of the branch and by a number of individuals, and concluded that serious errors of judgement and a breach of the union’s rules had occurred.

“As a democratic organisation it is important that branches uphold the highest standards of behaviour and conduct, and it was incumbent on us to thoroughly investigate the very serious allegations.

“Whilst upholding the key findings regarding conduct, the NAC reached a different conclusion on sanctions that should be applied, annulling the penalties. This demonstrates our democratic processes are robust and the NEC will now implement the agreed actions to ensure this branch runs in line with Prospect’s values in future.

“The NAC’s judgement contains multiple and clear criticisms of the branch’s actions. The judgement also clearly concludes that, were its recommendations regarding granting the branch committee more time to correct their behaviour taken on board, this would not have guaranteed that the individuals concerned would have reflected on their behaviour and adhered to Prospect’s rules.”

Loach’s latest feature, The Old Oak, was nominated for Outstanding British Film of the Year at the BAFTA Film Awards. He won a BAFTA fellowship in 2006 and his 1969 feature Kes is considered one of the greatest ever British films.

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