Caroline Flack's agent defends use of 'antisemitic caricature' on website

The director of Money Talent Management says he is a 'third generation Holocaust survivor'


The director of the celebrity agency that represented tragic Love Island presenter Caroline Flack has defended the use of a Jewish “Fagin” character to promote his company’s name.

Danny Stone, chief executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, had accused Money Talent Management of using a "grotesque antisemitic caricature"  by clearly displaying the image of the fictional character from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist novel alongside the firm's name and address.

The use of a shrivelled Jewish character as the villain of Oliver Twist has long sparked debate over antisemitism in the novel. And the same Fagin image as the one used by Money Talent Management was recently offered for sale at an auction as part of a lot titled "Antisemitism & Nazi Propaganda".

But in a statement, Frances Ridley, the director of Money Talent Management, said: "I am a third generation Holocaust survivor. From Auschwitz to Terezin my family experienced the brutality and finality of antisemitism. 

“Doesn’t make me unique. Just fact.

“So this story is not just wrong but also deeply hurtful.”

Addressing his company’s use of the Fagin character Mr Ridley said: "Well quite simply I grew up watching Oliver! starring Ron Moody as Fagin on television. (Mr Moody studied at the London School of Economics at the same time as my father which probably made it resonate even further).

“And I have loved the musical throughout my life and Fagin’s song 'You’ve got to pick-a-pocket or two' seemed apposite for our Soho-based talent agency many years ago.

“A song composed and a musical written by the Jewish Lionel Bart…….”

Mr Ridley then made a reference to the tragic death of his “client” Ms Flack, who took her own life earlier this month.

He said: "My client Caroline Flack took her life recently.

“There were many reasons that led to her death but certainly the very public and well documented rush to judgment of the media and social media contributed.

“I find myself saddened beyond belief that a well-respected national Jewish publication and Danny Stone would similarly make a rush to judgement with no insight or research. 

“At a time when we should be defending ourselves against legitimate antisemitism, we let ourselves down with this kind of behaviour.”

Money Management, also known as Money Talent Management, has established itself as one of the best known companies in the celebrity world with a client base that includes BBC presenters Edith Bowman and Trevor Nelson, actress Sadie Frost and Radio 1 drive time host Nick Grimshaw.

On Monday, Mr Stone MBE had condemned the use of the Fagin character by Mr Ridley’s company, telling the JC: "Money Management seeks to build trust with celebrity clients. 

"Why then does it have a grotesque antisemitic caricature of a make-believe thief on its homepage? 

"Given the company name, and the old antisemitic trope of Jews and money, this is doubly offensive.

“I'd be ashamed of this company if it were representing me, and no doubt many of its clients will want answers."

The JC has approached Mr Stone for further comment.

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