‘The Crown’ Producer Left Bank Pictures Defends Handling Of Sexual Assault Complaint Against Producer Chris Croucher

Left Bank Pictures, the Sony-owned producer behind The Crown, has defended its handling of a sexual assault complaint against former producer Chris Croucher.

Croucher, who was employed by Left Bank as an executive producer after working on shows like Downton Abbey, pled guilty to sexual assault and common assault last year after he groped one woman and assaulted a second woman at a Christmas party in December 2019. Croucher was spared prison, but was given a community order and added to the sex offenders’ register. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year.

Both of Croucher’s victims have identified themselves as part of a report by The Guardian. Holly Bourdillon and Laura Johnston were working in post-production on Left Bank’s Netflix series White Lines at the time of the incident. Bourdillon, who was the victim of the sexual assault, first complained to Left Bank about Croucher’s behavior in December 2019.

Bourdillon and Johnston were unhappy with the company’s handling of the matter. They told journalist Sirin Kale — who was at the forefront of reporting on the allegations against Noel Clarke — that Left Bank acted to protect Croucher, downplayed his wrongdoing, and failed to advocate for them reporting the incident to the police. Furthermore, The Guardian reported that police had to secure a production order to obtain evidence against Croucher from Left Bank, though this order was not contested by the firm.

Left Bank said it went to “great lengths” to support Bourdillon and Johnston, adding that claims it sided with the producer “completely mischaracterize the seriousness with which Left Bank Pictures took the complaint from the outset.” The company added that it “cooperated fully with the police.”

Specifically, The Guardian said Croucher was not initially dismissed and was instead allowed to resign with notice, despite Left Bank policies stating that inappropriate behavior would “result in a disciplinary investigation and may constitute gross misconduct, leading to summary dismissal.” The women were also discouraged from disclosing the real reason for Croucher’s absence from White Lines, according to an email exchange. After Bourdillon reported her experience to the police in February 2020, Croucher’s contract was reportedly terminated.

“Poor man… one night has ruined his life,” is how Johnston characterized Left Bank’s response to her complaint. Johnston added: “They just thought of him the whole way through. They treated him as the victim and failed to acknowledge that he had committed multiple crimes that evening. It felt like they allowed him to save face professionally.”

A Left Bank spokesman said: “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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