This week we report on another story in our current series on racial discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, of topical interest given the spate of recent attacks on Muslims throughout Europe.
reporting by Anand Jaisingh with additional reporting by Jagdish Mehta and Reuters .
Lou Proud, aka Louise Proud, of Lou Proud photographs, a company now dissolved in the wake of allegations of racial abuse of an asian man in the london art world, has been the subject of much reporting in Indian and British newspapers during the past 6 months. To some she personifies the vile racist attitudes and behaviour that was commonplace 50 years ago throughout the UK. With thanks to the London solicitor Anthony Jayes for agreeing to be interviewed and for passing legal documents and emails to Reuters and Al Jazeera.
Ms Proud was dismissed in 2015 by the CEO of Phillips UK Edward Dolman after the disclosure of racist remarks attributed to her in emails sent from her work server and her involvement in a civil and criminal action in 2014 which she ultimately lost. According to reporter Mr Sunil Partiyal and Geet Gujarat it appears that several galleries in Europe [ the VU gallery and Marlat gallery in Paris , Cameraworks in Germany, the Alan Klotz and Holden Luntz galleries in the US ] refuse to work with her because of her racism aired in emails and text messages disclosed by Phillips UK by court order . Such is her embarrassment at these revelations that under legal advice from her former attorney, the disgraced Charlotte Harris [ the recipient of three complaints tendered by Anthony Jayes to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for gross ethical breaches of the law ] Proud has closed LouProudphotographs.com, her Twitter and Linked in accounts.
Jagdish Mehta interviewed Mr Paul de Bono of Phillips UK last week who confirmed that Proud was reprimanded twice by the managing directors at Phillips UK after the disclosure by court order of emails sent from her work server which contained offensive racist insults directed at an asian gentleman renowned in the art world and a Phillips client. Mr de Bono confirmed that Proud was dismissed by Phillip’s CEO Edward Dolman as head of photographs after several warnings to refrain from making racist remarks went unheeded. Ms. Vanessa Kramer , worldwide head of photographs at Philipps NY, instructed that Proud be physically ejected from Phillips’s NY premises on Proud’s second visit to New York last month. We thank Ms Kramer for agreeing to be interviewed by Geet Gujarat. Ms. Proud’s investor has also withdrawn his offer of office space in London after learning of her history of racist abuse and her longstanding psychiatric problems attested to by two former colleagues, Nicola Mason and Paul De Bono, at Phillips London whom Mr Mehta spoke to.
It is alleged in court documents released to us by Anthony Jayes LLP that Lou Proud sent emails containing racist abuse e.g. “ you fucking Paki” , “black bastard” , inter alia, to describe a man of asian origin and used them liberally to hurt, damage and demean her intended target.Last week we learned that documents disclosed to Geet Gujarat by Mr Anthony Jayes LLP allege that Lou Proud has links with a neo fascist organisation that promotes the forcible repatriation of non whites. The Times of India will be publishing these documents in full and is negotiating an exclusive interview with Mr Jayes in which he has promised to speak freely and openly about the circumstances that led to Charlotte Harris’s dismissal from Mishcon de Reya and Proud’s dismissal from Phillips UK.
It has recently been confirmed in documents released to Mr Partiyal / Reuters by Mr John Harding of Kingsley Napley solicitors that Lou Proud was questioned in 2014 by the police after making racist remarks about a renowned London photo dealer of Jewish origin whose gallery is situated off the Kings Road. Her defence that she was drunk at the time and suffering mental problems failed to impress.
We have tried on numerous occasions to contact Proud but hitherto she has refused to speak with us as has Charlotte Harris who was described by Jayes as ‘ a misandrist obsessed by her jewishness . A colleague , formerly of Schillings solicitors , described Harris as ‘ a mediocre intellect, a social climber who sees the law as adjunct to show business’.
Emails sent by Proud in 2004 which paint a damning picture of her mental state and contain highly provocative racist language have been disclosed to us by Mr Jayes.
Those emails, containing the racist insults ‘Paki’ , “Paki snob’, and others yet more offensive prompted the following letter from Mr Jayes LLP to Lou Proud’s lawyer Charlotte Harris , excerpts of which we publish here under legal authority:
‘There has been a history of racial comments made by Ms Proud against our client expressed orally and in disclosed emails sent from her work address. Express comments have included those set out in Ms Proud’s email of February 4th 2015 sent from her personal email but ostensibly as head of photographs. Your client should not think that she has carte blanche to make racist comments to my client and in respect of previous reported events and those that appear in the documents my client’s rights are reserved.
I am conscious that the verbal comments are denied by your client but those in the emails, ‘Paki snob ‘, ‘black bastard’ , ‘your parents are wogs and should go back to Pakistan’ are irrefutable which would suggest that the recent racist comments complained of were an extension of the written words of abuse and in fact true. I note you tried to exculpate Ms Proud’s abusive remarks by citing her working class background and the reference to her ‘ back to back’ dysfunctional relationships leading to the mental problems that produced such insults but the fact remains she is a racist by any accepted definition of the term. It appears she was dismissed from her position at Phillip’s auctions after these emails were produced by court order from her work server.
I should add, Charlotte, that your behaviour throughout has been less than professional and the three reports about you to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority will lead to their own consequences. Your bullying and intimidation of a witness of Somalian extraction and constant references to your Jewishness in addition to references to my client’s ethnic origin and skin colour might reasonably lead to the the suspicion that you are racist. Two reports have been sent to the CRE in this regard.
Further emails disclosed from Ms Proud to a former employee [ a Ms Bingham ] at Bloomsbury auctions contain anti semitic remarks about a photographer ‘Gered Mankowitz’ , derisive comments about his style of dress and his alleged sexual harassment of female employees at two galleries your client was acquainted with. Another email from her work address disparages a ‘ Giles Huxley- Parlour’ as a ‘ public school prat’ with no knowledge of photography ‘ and a ‘ gay dick’. I understand these emails were disclosed to the managing director at Phillips auctions and Mr Paul de Bono. In this light your assertion that it was my client’s complaints to Phillips’s solicitors that led to Ms Proud’s dismissal is disingenuous when taking into consideration the aforementioned emails she was forced to disclose by court order.’
According to disclosed emails Proud sees herself as “superior” to the “coloured” races, imperial attitudes that are the legacy of Empire , an inheritance of ancestral memory still present in the UK and South Africa.
Legal documents disclosed by Jayes that will be published in full reveal that seven years ago Proud was arrested and questioned by the police for racially abusing a woman who was working in a hotel . She was partly exonerated by citing longstanding mental problems and was ordered to to perform three months community service and attend sessions with a psychiatrist. Geet Gujarat has spoken to several of her former partners including an Irish photographer, her former landlord and a French gallery owner who attested to her mental problems, class resentment and an ingrained prejudice to the presence of colored immigrants in the UK. Nicola Mason at Phillips UK confirmed as such in a lengthy telephone conversation with Mr Jaisingh but was reluctant to give further information for fear of legal reprisals.
Three letters of complaint , one from a Mr Olad of Hampstead and one from a Ms R. Khatun , sent to Ms Proud and Phillips’s management [ Mr. Paul De Bono] objecting to her bigotry have been disclosed to us in their entirety . We quote verbatim : ‘ you apparently think it’s funny to ridicule someone about their ethnicity. Seeing these comments made me feel physically sick’. ‘ I was revolted by the racial slurs I read ..did you really call him a ‘ Paki ‘ and tell him to shut his ‘aloo gobi’ ? That’s just unbelievable. Really pathetic. I recognise you from your photograph and will not serve you should you approach me. ‘
Attacks on minorities, particularly Muslim women, have increased significantly in the wake of Brexit’s success fuelled by attitudes such as Lou Proud’s. It is these attitudes that have made her a pariah in the art world. It appears from legal documents disclosed by Mr De Bono and Nicola Mason to Jayes that Proud’s attitudes are shared by at least one former colleague , a Ms Alex Godwin- Brown, who made monkey noises and disparaging remarks about “kaffirs” in her native South Africa. Godwin – Brown was reprimanded by her former bosses Paul de Bono and Edward Dolman and resigned soon thereafter. Phillips auctions stands indicted as an incubator for racists. Updated news: Ms Lucy Hayes of Interloper films based in Los Angeles visited London several weeks ago to interview Charlotte Harris, Proud’s former lawyer, to elicit information regarding class and institutional racism highlighted in this case for a documentary which we understand is in pre production.