Roman Polanski sues Academy over expulsion for historic sex offence

The Oscar-winning film maker Roman Polanski is suing the Academy that hands out the awards, nearly a year after it expelled him.

Roman Polanski promoting his film Based on a True Story at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival

The director has been in self-imposed exile – mostly in France – since 1978, after he admitted having sex with a thirteen year old girl in California, as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. He left the country before his sentencing hearing, claiming that the judge was planning to renege on the plea deal and impose a longer sentence.

Last May, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that Polanski’s conduct had been in contravention of new standards drawn up in response to the scandal that grew out of sexual offence allegations made against the disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, in October 2017.

Within days of the first claims being levelled at Weinstein, he became the first person to be thrown out of the Academy for more than a decade. Seven months later, Polanski was expelled on the same day as the comedian Bill Cosby, who had just been convicted of sexual assault.

Polanski’s lawyer, Harland Braun, has questioned why he was expelled from the Academy on the same day as Bill Cosby, when the organisation had known about his situation for four decades – and had even given him an Oscar during that time, for directing The Pianist. Braun said Polanski had been kicked out of the organisation without warning and without a chance to respond.

In a statement, the Academy said its procedures had been fair and reasonable and it stood by its decision.