Londoner’s Diary: Barbican staff hit out at new directors amid racism row

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Controversy: A general view of the Barbican Centre on November 18, 2016 in London, England. (Getty Images)
Controversy: A general view of the Barbican Centre on November 18, 2016 in London, England. (Getty Images)

Welcome to the first Londoner’s Diary of the week. Today, Barbican Stories tell us the changeover of power at the Barbican Centre is doing little to show its committed to becoming an anti-racist organisation. Later, Jack Whitehall’s parents Michael and Hilary discuss what life is really like with a famous son, and Brian May calls for a change in copyright laws. In SW1A, Nick Thomas-Symonds and Tom Watson discuss how politicians can get- and stay - fit.

11:05 , Robbie Smith

Controversy: A general view of the Barbican Centre on November 18, 2016 in London, England. (Getty Images)
Controversy: A general view of the Barbican Centre on November 18, 2016 in London, England. (Getty Images)

The Barbican’s upcoming change in leadership is an “embarrassing and grim” attempt to shore up the centre’s image amid allegations of racism, says a spokesperson from Barbican Stories, a collective of former and current employees.

Nicholas Kenyon will be stepping down as managing director next month after 14 years. The position will pass to Will Gompertz, director of arts and learning, and Sandeep Dwesar, chief operating and financial officer, on an interim basis. But a Barbican Stories spokesperson claimed its new directors have “little to no track record of actually implementing any radical anti-racism plans effectively”, adding: “This makes Nick Kenyon’s resignation feel like a way to ‘perform change’ without actually changing anything.”

Barbican Stories published a book in June which detailed more than 100 instances of alleged discrimination at the arts centre. A Barbican spokesperson said: “The Barbican remains committed to becoming a truly anti-racist organisation.”

16:54 , Robbie Smith

Looking good: Rochelle and Marvin Humes attend ELLE fashion editor Georgia Medley’s birthday party at Middle Eight on August 21, 2021 (Dave Benett)
Looking good: Rochelle and Marvin Humes attend ELLE fashion editor Georgia Medley’s birthday party at Middle Eight on August 21, 2021 (Dave Benett)

Music’s power couple Rochelle and Marvin Humes cut bold shapes as they celebrated Elle fashion editor Georgia Medley’s birthday at Middle Eight in Covent Garden this weekend. Across town, singer Louisa Johnson and Bake Off star Candice Brown were at artist Sophie Tea’s show WOMEN at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel.

SW1A

15:54 , Robbie Smith

Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds is one of the many MPs who used remote working as an opportunity to get trim. “I have lost three stone,” the shadow home secretary tells us. Being away from Westminster helped, and he has been enduring morning jogs and a diet since spring. Roll on hot MP summer…

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Meanwhile ex-MP Tom Watson, who wrote about losing eight stone with unusual methods such as putting butter in his coffee, gives us some more palatable health tips for MPs returning after recess, such as trying out the new cycle lanes and “walking meetings around Lambeth and Westminster Bridge”.

May’s in tune with Lipa on pap snaps

14:54 , Robbie Smith

Time for some new rules: Brian May of Queen attends the press conference ahead of the Rhapsody Tour at Conrad Hotel on January 16, 2020 in Seoul (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Time for some new rules: Brian May of Queen attends the press conference ahead of the Rhapsody Tour at Conrad Hotel on January 16, 2020 in Seoul (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Queen’s Brian May has jumped to Dua Lipa’s defence after the singer was sued for allegedly putting a paparazzi image of herself on Instagram. Model Gigi Hadid, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian and actor Liam Hemsworth have also faced similar cases and now the Queen guitarist says he is looking at “creating a petition” to change the copyright laws. He told his Instagram followers that he too had suffered after posting images of himself and added: “Let us restore decency to photography.”

Ups and downs of a famous son

13:54 , Robbie Smith

Perks of the job: Hilary Whitehall, Jack Whitehall and Michael Whitehall attend the World Premiere of “The Bad Education Movie” at the Vue West End on August 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Perks of the job: Hilary Whitehall, Jack Whitehall and Michael Whitehall attend the World Premiere of “The Bad Education Movie” at the Vue West End on August 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Jack Whitehall’s parents Michael and Hilary have felt the ripple of their son’s fame quite differently. Michael, who stars with the comic in Travels With My Father, says “as a result of Jack” he has had to endure some rather bizarre encounters with fans. The pair, who are promoting good neighbourly relations as part of a post-lockdown Habitat campaign, talked about Michael’s recollection of the time a girl asked him to tell her to “F*** off” on camera. On the other hand, Hilary boasts about being afforded the opportunity to sit next to tennis dilettante Lewis Capaldi at Wimbledon: “He kept going to me, ‘Is this good, or is this bad, Hilary?’” Some you win…

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