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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 15:49 GMT
Burberry pulls out of Bafta party
A protest last Saturday outside a Burberry store in London
Workers have been protesting against the closure
Burberry has pulled its sponsorship of a pre-Bafta party ahead of a protest over the closure of a clothing factory.

The firm's plant in Treorchy, Rhondda, is due to shut in March with 300 job losses, with work moving overseas.

Workers were to picket Bafta's nominees party in London on 10 February. It will now be sponsored by Sky TV instead.

Burberry chairman John Peace said the firm was very disappointed "at the attempts to disrupt this premier event" for the British film industry.

He added the firm was an active supporter of the British arts and was "wholly committed to Britain" with almost half of the group's global workforce based in the UK".

Meanwhile, Sky TV has stepped in to sponsor the reception, which is being held at the Natural History Museum the night before the film and television awards.

This is a major blow and must be depressing for the workers, but it is a business and not a social works programme
Adam, Cardiff

A high-profile campaign to keep the factory open, led by unions and local politicians, has enlisted the support of a number of celebrities.

They include singer Sir Tom Jones, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and actors Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Ifans and Emma Thompson.

Bafta nominee Dame Judi Dench was one of the first to indicate she would not be attending the Burberry-sponsored party at the awards evening, according to Rhondda MP Chris Bryant.

He said: "I told Dame Judi's office we were very grateful that she was lending this support. It sends a strong message to Burberry."

Dame Judi Dench
Dame Judi told campainers she would not attend Bafta party

Burberry has said it was closing the Treorchy site because it is not "commercially viable" but intented to continue production in Yorkshire.

In January, it announced it would give the factory to the community, effectively guaranteeing the plant's value at 1m by underwriting its assets.

The gesture has been dismissed by those behind the campaign to keep the factory open.

In his statement on the cancelling the nominees' party, Mr Peace said: "We are disappointed because we'd hoped to further support the British film industry, and to celebrate on an international stage British creativity in both film and fashion."

Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews said: "Burberry is cracking under the pressure that's being exerted. It's clearly very concerned about the impact on its image and reputation."

Bafta chairman Hilary Bevan Jones said: "We are delighted that Sky has saved the day and will ensure the nominees party takes place.

"We thank Burberry for their support to date and their pragmatism regarding their withdrawal."

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