Belfast actors' agent Mark McCrory banned for 10 years

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A Belfast actors' agent has been banned from running a recruitment agency for ten years after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Mark Butler, also known as Mark McCrory, of Universal Artists Belfast, faced an industrial tribunal following allegations by a number of actresses.

He is married to actress Alison Ford, also known as Alexandra Ford.

The banning order also prevents her from running an employment agency or business with her husband's input.

Neither Mr Butler or Mrs Ford contested the tribunal order.

Stormont's Department for the Economy said the ban followed an "extensive investigation" by its Employment Agency Inspectorate into allegations of "inappropriate conduct and behaviour on the part of Mr Butler".

A statement from the department said Mr Butler has a previous conviction for indecently assaulting a young actress in 2005.

An earlier industrial tribunal into that case allowed him to continue trading, under conditions, between 2010 and 2015.

The new order means that Mr Butler is entirely banned from being involved in the running of any employment agency for the next decade.

Mrs Ford can still run an agency, but only if she ensures that Mr Butler has no contact with any clients who are using, or considering using, the services of her agency.

She must also ensure that Mr Butler has no access to any premises from which she may run an agency.

Mrs Ford is best known for playing Dympna in the BBC Northern Ireland comedy series, Give My Head Peace.

Universal Artists Belfast has provided casting for film, television, radio and theatre productions in Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Department for the Economy said: "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.

"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."