Anti-racism group criticised for inviting Ken Loach to judge school competition

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Anti-racism group criticised for inviting Ken Loach to judge school competition

Show Racism the Red Card under fire over its decision, with the Board of Deputies describing the filmmaker as a 'poor choice to judge a competition on anti-racism'

Ken Loach
Ken Loach

A leading anti-racism educational charity has been asked to remove the filmmaker Ken Loach from a panel judging submissions to a children’s art competition.

The filmmaker, best known for his 1969 drama Kes, is set to judge designs inspired by the theme of anti-racism together with the Jewish children’s author Michael Rosen for an annual contest run by Show Racism the Red Card.

The Board of Deputies urged the charity on Wednesday to reconsider its invitation due to past comments about the row over antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Loach drew controversy in the spring of 2018 when he called on the Labour Party to suspend MPs who appeared at the Enough is Enough rally against antisemitism outside Parliament.

The call was dismissed by Labour’s shadow energy minister Barry Gardiner, who defended MPs’ right to join the rally. The shadow cabinet member told BBC Question Time Loach “was absolutely wrong, and Jeremy [Corbyn] has said as much.”

A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies said it raised the matter with Show Racism the Red Card, describing Loach as a “poor choice to judge a competition on anti-racism” in a tweet on Wednesday.

Show Racism the Red Card’s chief executive Ged Grebby told Jewish News on Wednesday the charity was aware of “some opposition” to Loach being on the judging panel.

“We are taking these concerns seriously and this decision will be discussed by our management committee at their next meeting,” he said, noting the charity’s “24-year record of fighting antisemitism in all our education work and materials.”

Grebby had described Loach and Rosen as “valued supporters” in a statement announcing the two judges on Tuesday. Officials at the charity, he said, were “delighted that they’ve agreed to judge this year’s School Competition.”

Show Racism the Red Card was founded in 1996 with funding donated by the former Newcastle United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. It delivers workshops in schools, offices and football stadiums.

Its annual schools’ competition launched in 1998 drew entries from 27,000 children in 474 schools across the country last year, according to the charity.

Ken Loach was reached for comment.

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