Dame Sian Phillips barred from Actors Benevolent Fund meeting

Acting legend Dame Sian Phillips was barred from an Actors Benevolent Fund meeting by security as a row over bullying and harassment allegations within the charity grows more toxic

Acting legend Dame Sian Phillips was refused entry to a trustees’ meeting of the Actors’ Benevolent Fund (ABF) as a year-long feud at the charity becomes increasingly toxic.

The Charity Commission is currently investigating claims of bullying and harassment at the 140-year-old charity, amid concerns about its governance, which has led to a number of its trustees being excluded.

Dame Sian, 89, and another actress, Rosalind Shanks, 79, were turned away by a doorman when they tried to attend last month’s council meeting at the charity’s headquarters in Central London.

TURNED AWAY: Dame Sian Phillips in I, Claudius

TURNED AWAY: Dame Sian Phillips in I, Claudius

Friends claim the security guard had photographs of the women along with other former trustees who have been excluded from meetings, including Dame Penelope Keith and James Bolam.

Dame Sian, best known for her performance in the 1970s BBC drama I, Claudius, and Likely Lads actor Mr Bolam, were among those reportedly ousted amid claims that trustees were ‘bullying’ general secretary Jonathan Ellicott by requesting detailed information about the charity’s financial activities.

A ‘formal complaint and grievance’ about Mr Ellicott has been lodged.

The ABF has assets of about £30 million and spends £1 million a year caring for actors and stage managers who have fallen on hard times.

The ABF, whose patron is Prince Charles, said last night: ‘Two ABF members came, without notice, hoping to attend a meeting which only ABF trustees, who have legal responsibilities, have a right to attend, thus they were politely turned away.’