Ben Cook, the president of Atlantic Records in the UK and a key figure in Ed Sheeran's success, has resigned from his role in the company over an "offensive" costume which saw him dress up as a member of Run DMC for a party seven years ago.

The music boss admitted he made "a terrible mistake" in choosing to wear the costume to a birthday party seven years ago and said his intention was "to honour a musical hero".

In a statement, he said he was previously reprimanded by the label for dressing up as a member of the American hip-hop group, but that new allegations about his appearance prompted his departure.

Cook said: "It is with great sadness that today I announce I am stepping down as president of Atlantic Records, UK.

"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."

Ben Cook aimed to "honour a musical hero" with Run DMC costume

He continued: "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. Moreover, they have been used against a wonderful company and the label I love. 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. I have learned a great deal from this event and will resolutely continue to champion these values moving forward."

He added: "I unreservedly apologise to anyone who has been hurt."

Cook was at Atlantic for 12 years and gave chart-topper Sheeran his first major label record deal. He also has worked with artists including Jess Glynne, Clean Bandit, Rudimental and Anne-Marie.

Last year he helped bring grime star Stormzy to the label, entering a joint venture with the Stormzy's own Merky Records.

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