When I wrote Dear Person I’m Reluctant to Keep Engaging With But Have Had to For Professional Reasons, it was Ben Leslie I had in mind.
And I’ve never met Ben Leslie – but just like you, I’ve met many Ben Leslies.
At that time, NAVA was one of many organisations supporting people whose experiences with Leslie have now been made public. His response – “my behaviour caused me to behave in a way which I regret” – was featured prominently in a recent article in The Advertiser.
While the headline on that and Arts Hub’s story at the time claimed that Leslie had apologised, there was in fact no apology. Quite the contrary: in describing “the behaviour” and asking for further chances “to get it right in the future” Leslie wrote: “to the extent my behaviour affected other people, I do not ask for forgiveness”.
As Richard Watts’ important story shows, it’s vital to present such serious matters with care. Giving clear prominence to the voices of people actually affected is crucial to ending the scourge of that behaviour and everything that enables it.
Especially given how perilous it can be to speak out – perilous for mental and physical health, professional relationships and career prospects, and of course, repercussions from the perpetrator. Even more so given it’s generally necessary to keep engaging with that person for professional reasons…