Ben Cook has stepped down from his position as president of Atlantic Records UK following rumors of a controversial costume he wore to an event, the BBC reports. “Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favorite musical icon, I came as a member of Run-D.M.C.,” Cook wrote in a statement. “Late last year rumors began to circulate about my appearance at that event, many of which are simply untrue. While my intention was to honor a musical hero, I recognize my appearance was offensive and I made a terrible mistake.”
His statement continues, “As a consequence of this, I readily agreed to disciplinary actions by my employer last year. Since then however, allegations surrounding the party have continued to be made against me. I have therefore come to the conclusion that I should make this statement and step down, with immediate effect.”
Warner—Atlantic’s parent company—issued the following statement: “Ben Cook is leaving Atlantic UK and this will be his last week in the office.” Mark Mitchell, co-president of Parlophone, will replace him on an interim basis.
Ben Cook has served as president of Atlantic UK since 2014. “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 said. “I have learned a great deal from this event and will resolutely continue to champion these values moving forward…. I unreservedly apologize to anyone who has been hurt.” Among the artists he worked with at Atlantic are Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX, and Stormzy.