Anti-racism charity reverses decision to appoint Ken Loach schools competition judge

Board of Deputies calls it a 'u-turn' as it asks for apology 'to the Jewish community'


British film director Ken Loach gestures during a photocall for the film "Sorry We Missed You" at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 17, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

An anti-racism charity has reversed a decision to appoint filmmaker Ken Loach as a judge on one of its competitions, saying "new information" had come to light.

In a statement published on its website on Monday, Show Racism the Red Card said: “Following new information, the Board of Trustees have decided not to endorse the Executive decision to appoint Ken Loach as a judge for the Show Racism the Red Card School Competition 2020.”

But the backtrack left Jewish groups who had previously called out SRtRC angry.

The Board of Deputies, which had previously highlighted how Mr Loach had dismissed allegations of antisemitism within Labour, called it a "u-turn".

It asked whether SRtRC would apologise to the Jewish community "for ignoring its serious concerns about antisemitism in the first place" and asked what information had prompted the decision.

Mr Loach was selected as a judge on the charity’s annual anti-racism schools competition in February.

SRtRC also appears to have deleted a statement it published online on March 5 that defended the decision to work with Ken Loach but clarified that it would be reconsider the decision at Monday’s trustee meeting.

In 2017, Mr Loach caused outrage at the Labour Party Conference when he defended a speaker who had supported people’s right to ask ‘The Holocaust: Yes or No?’ by saying: “History is for everyone to discuss.”

Mr Loach has been an outspoken defender of outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and once said those making allegations of antisemitism in the party were “mischief-making” and “the ones we need to kick out”.

He also described allegations of antisemitism in the party as “exaggerated or false” and called a BBC Panorama investigation into the issue “disgusting”.

SRtRC was formed in 1996 and its competition runs across 474 schools with 27,000 young people taking part last year.

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