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Filmmaker Ken Loach describes himself as a ‘target’ for pressure groups

Filmmaker Ken Loach has described himself as a target for “unfounded abuse” from the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) after the pressure group condemned the BBC for working with his production company on a new feature film.

The veteran director, 87, said he trusts the BBC will treat an “offensive” email from Jewish campaigners “appropriately” after the group described him as a denier of antisemitism.

Loach’s company Sixteen Films has partnered with BBC Film on an upcoming feature, believed to be set in Scotland, titled Downtrodden.

BAFTA Film Awards 2017 – Press Room – London
Ken Loach with the award for Outstanding British Film for I, Daniel Blake (Ian West/PA)

However, the CAA condemned the BBC for working with Loach’s production company, describing the move as a “terrible lapse in judgment” after he was expelled from the Labour Party in 2021 during what he called at the time a “purge” of Jeremy Corbyn allies.

Loach, who has long been celebrated for his socially-critical films, told the PA news agency: “This is unfounded abuse from a pressure group. I have answered such allegations many times.

“There are important questions to put to the CAA when it makes these unpleasant attacks.

“They have a political agenda and they clearly do not represent all Jewish people, maybe only a minority.

“They never challenge me directly, simply seek to cause professional damage and personal distress.”

Anti-semitism in Labour
Protesters during the demonstration organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism outside the Labour Party headquarters in central London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Loach described himself as a “target” for pressure groups such as the CAA as he is “known to be of the left” and also someone “who supports Palestinian rights”.

He also vehemently denied serving as a producer on the project, saying: “In this instance, the CAA has its facts wrong.

“I am not a producer of the film Downtrodden, nor involved in its production.

“Sixteen Films is a production company that works with several directors.”

His comments come following a statement from the CAA over the weekend, which read: “Ken Loach has been just appalling in his antisemitism denial, not only during the years of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, but long after the Equality and Human Rights Commission found evidence of illegal antisemitism and the Labour Party admitted it.

“Even the Labour Party has ditched him, so why would anyone think he’s still an acceptable partner for the BBC?”

The UK’s equalities watchdog found Labour was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination as the former leader struggled to tackle antisemitism.

On Monday, Loach said in “all matters of antisemitism” he takes advice from Jewish colleagues, which include senior academics who have written extensively on the subject, who have experienced antisemitism and understand it.

He said: “They have written many times in my support and continue to do so.

“Unlike the casually offensive language of the CAA, their rigorous examination of these issues will withstand any scrutiny.

“I share their views that there is racism, including antisemitism, in all parties, but that in the Labour party it was weaponised to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the left in general, and to inhibit criticism of Israel.”

In 2016, Loach directed I, Daniel Blake which won the Bafta Award for Outstanding British Film for depicting a man’s struggle with the welfare system.

The BBC has been contacted for comment.