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October 09, 2017 at 01:00 PM EDT

Dame Judi Dench, one of Harvey Weinstein’s most esteemed recurring collaborators, is speaking out on recent accusations of sexual misconduct against the film distribution mogul.

In a statement provided to EW, the Oscar-winning actress remarks: “Whilst there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my film career for the past 20 years, I was completely unaware of these offenses which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out.”

The pair’s working relationship took off in 1997, when Weinstein’s former studio, Miramax, released the period drama Mrs. Brown, for which Dench received her first of seven total Oscar nominations to date. She would later go on to win the Academy Award for her supporting turn in Miramax’s Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love, further working with the movie titan’s eponymous company, The Weinstein Company, for the theatrical runs of 2005’s Mrs. Henderson Presents and 2013’s Philomena.

“Well, it is true that Mrs. Brown was made for television,” Dench previously told EW while promoting her latest release, Victoria and Abdul. “And then came Harvey. It was he who saw it and said, ‘This is a movie.’ Quite suddenly it kicked off a whole movie career for me. I had done very few films before that.”

Over the years, Dench has also joked about having Weinstein’s name tattooed on her buttocks, a rumor that has circulated for years following an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“I once said to him, ‘I have your named tattooed on my bum.’ He laughed and was, well, quite embarrassed, actually. It’s quite difficult to embarrass Harvey, but I did!” she told the publication. “And then, we went out to lunch, to the Four Seasons. Charlie Rose was there and I think my agent was there. Beforehand, I got my makeup lady to actually write Harvey’s name. [laughs] Then I brought it up at lunch and said, ‘You know, I do have it on my bum’ — and then I actually got up and showed him! I’ve never seen a man more embarrassed and I’ve never let him forget it. [laughs] Perhaps I should have it done and really shock him!”

Weinstein himself has relayed that claim as well, but Dench wouldn’t confirm whether the tattoo was real or not earlier this year. “Well, well, yes that is a fact that only Harvey and I know,” she told EW. “You’ll have to trust Harvey about that.”

Via an Oct. 5 New York Times exposé, news broke that Weinstein had a three-decade history of harassment allegations throughout his career. A slew of Hollywood celebrities have spoken out against Weinstein in recent days, and he was formally ousted Sunday from his post at The Weinstein Company by its board of directors. In a statement to the TimesWeinstein apologized for “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past,” before quoting Jay-Z’s album 4:44, communicating his intentions to “to learn about myself and conquer my demons.”

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