Bafta explains why it went ahead with award to Noel Clarke despite knowing of sexual misconduct allegations

14:07pm, Fri 30 Apr 2021
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Bafta has said it treated sexual misconduct allegations against actor and producer Noel Clarke with “the utmost seriousness, care and proper process at every stage”.

Earlier this month the British Academy honoured Clarke with the outstanding British contribution to cinema award – after it had been informed of accusations of misconduct.

Twenty women who knew Clarke in a professional capacity have come forward with allegations in The Guardian.

Clarke has “vehemently” denied claims of sexual misconduct.

Bafta has suspended his award and membership, and sought to clarify to members why it proceeded with plans to celebrate the actor at the recent film awards.

MP Stella Creasy said the allegations posed “very uncomfortable questions for Bafta”, while shadow Northern Ireland minister Alex Davies Jones said: “If @Bafta gave Noel Clarke an ‘outstanding contribution award’ despite knowing about the allegations against him then there are serious questions that need answering immediately.”

In a letter to its membership, Bafta said it was not aware of allegations relating to Clarke before announcing he would be given the award and it was in the days following the announcement in March that the body received anonymous emails of second or third-hand accounts.

The letter said: “We want to reassure you that we have treated this matter with the utmost seriousness, care and proper process at every stage.

“The Bafta board of trustees has remained right across this matter, has met a number of times and are fully supportive of all actions taken.

“The allegations against Mr Clarke are extremely serious and the behaviour they allege are contrary to Bafta’s values and everything it stands for.

“But no matter how abhorrent these allegations are, they cannot be dealt with without due process.

“Bafta is an arts charity that is not in a position to properly investigate such matters.”

The academy said the emails it received were “either anonymous or second or third-hand accounts via intermediaries”.

“No first-hand allegations were sent to us. No names, times, dates, productions or other details were ever provided.

“Had the victims gone on record as they have with The Guardian, the award would have been suspended immediately. Noel Clarke’s counsel received a legal notice to this effect.

“It was always very clear what our intentions would be.

“We asked for individuals to come forward with their accounts and identify themselves, as they have done with The Guardian, but due to the anonymous claims and the lack of first-hand specificity, we did not have sufficient grounds to take action.”

Bafta added it put in place an “independent, appropriately qualified person” with whom alleged victims could discuss the issues.

The letter concluded: “We very much regret that women felt unable to provide us with the kind of first-hand testimony that has now appeared in The Guardian.

“Had we been in receipt of this, we would never have presented the award to Noel Clarke.”

Clarke, currently appearing in ITV thriller Viewpoint, said: “In a 20-year career, I have put inclusivity and diversity at the forefront of my work and never had a complaint made against me.

“If anyone who has worked with me has ever felt uncomfortable or disrespected, I sincerely apologise.

“I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing and intend to defend myself against these false allegations.”

Broadcaster Sky has said it is halting work with Clarke following the accusations.

He has starred in three series of Sky production Bulletproof.

A spokesman said: “Sky stands against all forms of sexual harassment and bullying and takes any allegations of this nature extremely seriously.

“Effective immediately, we have halted Noel Clarke’s involvement in any future Sky productions.”

Clarke’s Bulletproof co-star, Ashley Walters, posted a statement on social media saying: “My thoughts are with the women who have come forward and told their awful stories, I am in shock and deeply saddened by what I have heard on a multitude of levels.

“I could never condone behaviour of this nature neither in nor out of the workplace, and whilst Noel has been a friend and colleague for several years, I cannot stand by and ignore these allegations.

“Sexual harassment, abuse and bullying have no place in our industry. Every woman has the right to a safe workplace and moving forward I pledge my dedication to this.”

Vertigo Films, the UK producers behind Bulletproof, said: “We are devastated to hear about these allegations and have launched an urgent investigation to find out if any apply to any Vertigo Films productions.

“Our immediate concern is for any cast or crew who may have had a negative experience on set.

“We have robust procedures in place for reporting incidents, including the ability to raise issues anonymously.

“And while no issues have been flagged to us, we stand ready to support anyone who has had a negative experience on the show and encourage you to come forward with confidence.

“Effective immediately, Noel Clarke is removed from any Vertigo Films production.”

Clarke made his first TV appearance more than 20 years ago in the Channel 4 series Metrosexuality, and gained fame for his roles as Mickey Smith in Doctor Who and Wyman Norris in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

He later wrote and starred in the acclaimed film trilogy Kidulthood, Adulthood and Brotherhood, and directed two of them.

Clarke was first recognised by Bafta in 2009, when he won the Rising Star prize.

Management and production company 42 M&P said it stopped representing Clarke earlier this month.

A spokesman said: “Noel Clarke was a client of 42 M&P until April this year but the company no longer represents him.”

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