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Two women working for the film company behind The Crown have accused the firm of protecting an executive who sexually and physically assaulted them after a Christmas party.
Holly Bourdillon and Laura Johnston, who were freelancers for Left Bank Pictures, have accused the company of badly mishandling the complaint made against executive producer Chris Croucher.
The former freelancers were hired to work on the post-production edit of the hit Netflix show White Lines in 2019 when the incident occurred, reports The Guardian.
Holly made a formal complaint about Croucher’s actions to Left Bank Pictures in December 2019, claiming that the TV boss had groped and forcibly kissed her after he chased her around the Soho offices while masturbating.
“The whole reason I went and told his boss is because I didn’t want it to happen again. I didn’t want it to happen to other people,” she said.
“I was so scared. I wanted to cry. I was scared he was going to rape me.”
The women, who were working for the film company behind The Crown have accused their bosses of protecting the executive who sexually and physically assaulted them
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It's claimed that Laura Johnston, stepped in to try rescue her colleague before the producer chased her around the space asking her to take part in a ‘threesome’.
Croucher, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, pleaded guilty to sexual assault against Holly Bourdillon and common assault against Laura Johnston in January.
He was later charged with assault and sexual assault and was sentenced to three months’ curfew and a five-year community order.
At the time, his barrister told the courts that Croucher felt ‘shame’ and ‘shock’ at his actions, and said that he had done his best to try make amends with the former staffers.
Holly now claims that felt the company prioritised protecting Croucher and minimising the impact of his actions rather than looking out for her wellbeing.
The former Left Bank Pictures freelancer told The Guardian that Croucher was not initially fired.
A formal complaint about Croucher’s actions to Left Bank Pictures was filed in December 2019
(Image: Left Bank Pictures)
Instead, she claims he was allowed to resign from the firm with notice.
This is disputed by the company who say Croucher was dismissed following an investigation.
A spokesperson for Left Bank told the women’s claims were “inaccurate” and “completely mischaracterise the seriousness with which Left Bank Pictures took the complaint from the outset”.
Holly also claims she was asked by management not to reveal to people why Croucher had quit the company.
In an email reported by The Guardian, a senior executive said: “We agree with you that we do not need to say he has resigned but instead can say that he has left and/or is no longer working on the production and there does not need to be a further explanation for his leaving.
“If asked, we can say that we cannot comment further… but we would not go beyond that to refer to conduct or inappropriate behaviour.”
Holly and Laura were working on post-production of Netflix's White Lines when the incident occurred
(Image: Netflix Media Center PR Website)
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Laura told The Guardian: "What they did was so wrong. I don’t think they realise the impact this has had on our lives."
Holly also claimed that a Sony Pictures HR official told her 'woman to woman' that a police complaint would lead to 'intrusive questions' that would not 'be a nice experience'.
The company strongly denies these comments, The Guardian reports.
The company said in a statement: “At no time were the women who raised the concerns discouraged from reporting the events to the police.
“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 no time were the women who raised the concerns . . . asked or encouraged to lie.”
The Mirror has reached out to Left Bank Pictures and Netflix for further comment on this story.