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Kevin Spacey’s former London theatre, the Old Vic, is refusing to answer questions about the “external advisors” it announced would help its investigation into the actor’s conduct amid mounting criticisms that it is mishandling the process, BuzzFeed News can reveal.
After the actor Anthony Rapp and others made an array of allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey last week, the Old Vic – where Spacey was the artistic director from 2004 to 2015 – announced it was opening a confidential tips line for those with complaints to contact the theatre.
Its statement promised any information would be “treated in the utmost confidence” and that it had “appointed external advisors to help us deal with any information received”.
But when BuzzFeed News asked the Old Vic a series of questions about these external advisers – including who they are, how many there are, when they were appointed, how they were selected, and whether they really are responding to complainants – a representative for the theatre replied that she was “not able to comment on specific issues”.
BuzzFeed News asked the questions after hearing the account of a young actor who wanted to use the confidential helpline to report his allegation that he was groped by Spacey in 2013.
But the actor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that the response he received was not from an external adviser but from the executive director of the theatre, Kate Varah, who emailed him to ask for his phone number. There was, he said, no offer of speaking to an external adviser.
He told BuzzFeed News that not only was this setup “inappropriate” and a “conflict”, but that the refusal to answer questions about it was unacceptable.
“They need to be very careful how they move forward, their lack of transparency here is crazy,” he said. “How they cannot take the ludicrously simple step of disclosing who I’m sharing incredibly sensitive information with shows I’m not top of their priorities list – they are.”
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In response to questions from The Stage, the world’s oldest newspaper for the theatre industry, the Old Vic defended its process for handling the complaints. While it acknowledged that emails to the apparently confidential address were “received into a senior point of contact at The Old Vic” who is “supported by external advisers”, the theatre said it was essential for the senior manager to receive the emails otherwise the “process would fall down”.
No explanation was offered of why the process would collapse without management seeing the emails.
“All information received is being kept strictly private, and is also completely private from the board or any other staff,” the theatre's statement added.
The actor also said that although the Old Vic made a “very vague” offer of counselling – a promise also expressed in the theatre's correspondence with The Stage – this “has not been followed up”.
On Thursday, The Stage will publish on its front page a series of bullet-point questions about the Old Vic’s handling of the Spacey scandal.
The questions concern what the trustees knew or didn’t know, whether any internal investigations have previously taken place, what safeguarding measures have or will be implemented, and the remit and independence of the external advisers.
An accompanying leader by the editor, Alistair Smith, will name the board of trustees and ask whether they should resign.
This week, the Charity Commission contacted both the Old Vic and the Kevin Spacey Foundation seeking answers to a further set of questions about safeguarding measures. An announcement about whether the regulator will launch an official investigation has not yet been made.
The Kevin Spacey Foundation has deleted its entire social media presence, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. It was reported last week that the foundation’s website was also removed, but this has now been reinstated with no contact information.
The director of the foundation, Steve Winter, has not replied to questions posed to him by BuzzFeed News about the future of the foundation and whether he knew of any allegations prior to them appearing in the media.
The Old Vic has insisted it was not aware of allegations prior to BuzzFeed News publishing the interview with Anthony Rapp on 30 October.