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Left Bank Pictures, the producers of The Crown, have issued a statement in response to a report regarding the company’s handling of a sexual assault complaint.
In a story published Monday in The Guardian, Left Bank — in which Sony owns a majority stake — was accused by two former female staff members of badly mishandling a complaint against a male senior executive who sexually and physically assaulted them following a work event.
Chris Croucher, a former executive producer at Left Bank, pleaded guilty to the sexual and common assault of Holly Bourdillon and Laura Johnston, freelancers who were brought on board in 2019 to work on the Netflix series White Lines. The assaults reportedly took place on 18 December 2019 following a work party, in part in the central London edit suites that Left Bank had hired for post-production staffers. Bourdillon made a formal complaint to Left Bank on December 20 and, according to The Guardian‘s report, Croucher handed in his notice four days later.
In February 2020, Bourdillon reported the matter to the police, and in January of this year Croucher pleaded guilty to sexual and common assault, sentenced later to three months’ curfew and a five-year community order.
However, both Bourdillon and Johnston have accused Left Bank of acting to protect Croucher and minimize the severity of his criminal behavior, claiming they felt discouraged from contacting the police and that, after Croucher had left the company, they were asked to lie about the reason for his absence. Johnston also claimed that a Sony Pictures HR executive told her that the police would ask her “intrusive questions” and that it would not “be a nice experience.”
Sony has strongly denied that the executive said this to Johnston. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Left Bank Pictures has now issued a lengthy statement in which the company asserts that the claims about how the case was handled are “inaccurate” and denies any suggestion that the two women were urged not to speak to authorities.
The full statement by Left Bank is below:
“We are saddened to hear that Laura and Holly did not feel sufficiently supported by the company throughout this process, as the wellbeing of all of our staff is of paramount importance to us. The welfare of both women was a priority for all from the outset, throughout the investigation and beyond. However, these claims about the handling of this matter are inaccurate and completely mischaracterize the seriousness with which Left Bank Pictures took the complaint from the outset, as well as the great lengths the company went to in supporting the victims throughout. Upon receiving the complaint, Mr Croucher was removed from the workplace and a full investigation began immediately. Following the findings of the investigation and further interviews with staff, he was summarily dismissed. At every point we co-operated fully with the police and followed up with them numerous times throughout their investigation, and in compliance with HR protocols and employment law as they relate to complaints of this nature. At no time were the women who raised the concerns discouraged from reporting the events to the police, nor were they asked or encouraged to lie. Left Bank and Sony Pictures are committed to providing a workplace that is free from any form of sexual harassment, as evidenced by our actions taken in this instance.”
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