McKellen hits out at vetting scheme
Sir Ian McKellen has said he may not have become an actor if a new Government vetting scheme was in place when he was a child.
He told the BBC's Panorama programme that if he had not been able to perform as a child alongside adults in small voluntary theatres, "the 15-year-old Ian McKellen would be absolutely miserable and wouldn't have grown up to be this person today".
The new Vetting and Barring Scheme will mean that nine million adults will have to be registered with a new agency, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, before they are allowed to work "frequently or intensively" with children or vulnerable adults.
Sir Ian is patron of the Little Theatre Guild, which says the new scheme, coupled with a Government proposal to extend chaperoning requirements to include rehearsals and not simply dress rehearsals and performances, will mean small theatres will struggle to meet the requirements.
On the extension of chaperoning, Sir Ian said: "I would think there was no need for that. Good practice is that no child should ever be in a one to one relationship during rehearsal period. There doesn't seem to me to be any danger."
He added: "People are all there for the love of it - that's what amateur means. It's a very family atmosphere and there's never in the last 50 years been any hint of wrongdoing and so it's trying to put right a problem that doesn't really exist."
Meg Hillier, the junior Home Office minister responsible for the scheme, told the programme: "I do not believe there will be fewer volunteers as a result of the Independent Safeguarding Authority scheme."