Local actors' agent prohibited from running an employment agency

The Department for the Economy's Employment Agency Inspectorate has taken action against Mark Butler (McCrory) and Alison/Alexandra (Allie) Ford.

An Industrial Tribunal has prohibited Mr Mark Butler (McCrory) of Universal Artists Belfast from operating any employment agency or business for a period of 10 years.

The Order also prohibits Mr Butler’s wife Alison/Alexandra (Allie) Ford from carrying on an employment agency or business, except on condition that her husband has no part to play in it and he does not have access to any person seeking work through the agency, and is not permitted on the premises.

The Order follows an extensive investigation by the Department for the Economy’s Employment Agency Inspectorate into complaints received from a number of actresses alleging inappropriate conduct and behaviour on the part of Mr Butler. 

The Prohibition Order was not contested by either Mr Butler or Ms Ford.

A Departmental spokesperson said: "The acting sector in Northern Ireland is one which has seen significant growth in recent years with a number of high profile TV productions and films being made here. It is also an industry where you are more likely to find workers who are vulnerable to potential exploitation because they are so keen to find work in the sector. 

"The Prohibition Order against Mr Butler and Ms Ford should give a clear message to work-seekers in the entertainment industry that there is no need to tolerate unprofessional or inappropriate conduct on the part of an agent. Any work-seeker experiencing misconduct or inappropriate behaviour from their agent can bring concerns or complaints to the regulator of recruitment agencies, the Employment Agency Inspectorate in the Department for the Economy, and action will be taken.

"In this case, the Employment Agency Inspectorate acted immediately to investigate a series of complaints from actresses who sought to be or had been signed to Universal Artists. The actions of the Department, based upon the evidence of the actresses who came forward, have resulted in the Industrial Tribunal imposing the maximum prohibition period permitted by the legislation for both parties."

The Department previously obtained a Prohibition Order against Mr Butler in 2009 when it became aware he had a previous conviction for indecently assaulting a young actress in 2005. The decision by the Industrial Tribunal on that occasion was that Mr Butler should be allowed to continue trading, under conditions, between 2010 and 2015.

The new Order against Mr Butler means that he is entirely banned from being involved in the running of any employment agency in Northern Ireland for 10 years. The Order against Ms Ford means that she can still run an agency but only if she ensures that Mr Butler has no contact with any work-seekers who are using, or considering using, the services of her agency. In addition, Ms Ford must also ensure that Mr Butler has no access to any premises from which she may run an agency.

The Prohibition Order against Mr Butler and Ms Ford applies for 10 years. Failure to comply with a Prohibition Order is a criminal offence which could, if sufficient evidence were available, result in Mr Butler and/or Ms Ford being prosecuted by the Department through the courts.

The Employment Agency Inspectorate can be contacted via their email address at eai@economy-ni.gov.uk or via their helpline on 028 9025 7554.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Department for the Economy is responsible for the regulation of the Northern Ireland private recruitment sector and has the power, under Article 5A of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order, to apply to an Industrial Tribunal to prohibit an individual from carrying on, or being concerned with the carrying on of, an employment agency.
  2. The Employment Agency Inspectors are responsible for ensuring that all employment agencies comply with the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005. They carry out routine inspections on all employment agencies in Northern Ireland and investigate any complaints made to the Department.
  3. An Industrial Tribunal can prohibit an individual from operating an employment agency for up to ten years.
  4. For media enquiries please contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
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