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Ben Cook steps down from Atlantic over “offensive” fancy dress costume

By | Published on Thursday 17 October 2019

Ben Cook

The President of Warner Music’s Atlantic division in the UK, Ben Cook, yesterday announced that he is leaving the company with immediate effect. This follows an internal investigation into rumours that he attended a fancy dress party in 2013 in an “offensive” costume dressed as “a member of Run DMC”.

Admitting that he wore the costume, Cook said in a statement: “Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favourite musical icon, I came as a member of Run DMC. Late last year rumours began to circulate about my appearance at that event, many of which are simply untrue. While my intention was to honour a musical hero, I recognise my appearance was offensive and I made a terrible mistake”.

He went on to confirm that last year he was subject to “disciplinary actions” by his employer in relation to that event. Since them, it seems, further allegations have been made against him. “Moreover, they have been used against a wonderful company and the label I love”, he said. “I have therefore come to the conclusion that I should make this statement and step down, with immediate effect”.

“I am devastated that this mistake has caused upset and has called into question my commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion, values which I have championed throughout my career”, he added. “I have learned a great deal from this event and will resolutely continue to champion these values moving forward”.

Working first at Universal’s Island Records, Cook found success at Ministry Of Sound, before moving to Warner Music to head up a revived Asylum label. Later he was put in charge of Atlantic and on his watch the division signed artists including Ed Sheeran, Rudimental and Stormzy, as well as putting out the massively successful ‘Greatest Showman’ soundtrack.

Until a permanent replacement can be found, Cook’s position will be overseen by Parlophone co-President Mark Mitchell.