Women accuse the BAFTA-winning Doctor Who actor and Kidulthood writer of groping and bullying, while British media company Sky drops Clarke from all future productions.

By Joey Nolfi
April 30, 2021 at 12:33 PM EDT
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Michaela Coel stands in solidarity with 20 women who've come forward with accusations of bullying and sexual misconduct against British BAFTA-winning Doctor Who actor and Kidulthood trilogy writer-star Noel Clarke. Clarke has vehemently denied the accusations.

After The Guardian published Thursday several accounts from nearly two-dozen people detailing years of harassment and illicit behavior from Clarke, 45, both on and off set, the I May Destroy You writer-actress shared a statement praising their "strength" for sharing their stories.

"I am here to offer great support for the 20 brave women who have come forward; those who have shared their identities with us, but also those who have preferred to use an alias," she tweeted. "The mental hurdles a Black woman must overcome to do such a thing as reveal their identity within a narrative of rape abuse or bullying at the hands of someone within our own community can sometimes be too much."

Coel — whose I May Destroy You recently received universal acclaim for its narrative treatment of rape and sexual assault — added that there are seldom "grey areas" in cases like this, as the alleged behaviors are "unprofessional, violent, and can destroy a person's perception of themselves, their place in the world and their career irreparably."

The Guardian's report outlines allegations from various points in Clarke's career, including unwanted touching, sending nude photos of himself to professional contacts, taking inappropriate photos of a production assistant at the wrap party for his movie Brotherhood, attempting to kiss an assistant film director in front of an entire film crew, asking an actress to have sex with him and then attempting to silence her from speaking out, and recording actress Jahannah James' nude audition video after she says he told her it wouldn't be conducted on camera.

Clarke's representatives didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment on the allegations, though The Guardian pieces quotes a statement from the actor and filmmaker in which he categorically denied the accusations and pointed to his own 20-year career's dedication to "inclusivity and diversity at the forefront" of his work, stating he has "never had a complaint" made against him.

"If anyone who has worked with me has ever felt uncomfortable or disrespected, I sincerely apologize," he continued. "I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing and intend to defend myself against these false allegations."

In the wake of the allegations, media company Sky has dropped Clarke from all future productions — including his work on the police procedural Bulletproof.

In a statement provided to EW, representatives for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts — which honored Clarke with an award in April — said that the "serious misconduct" outlined in the Guardian piece have prompted the organization to nix Clarke's membership.

"BAFTA has taken the decision to suspend his membership and the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award immediately and until further notice," the statement reads. However, The Guardian notes that BAFTA was made aware of allegations against the star prior to the April 10 ceremony at which Clarke was honored.

Representatives for BAFTA provided EW with a letter that was sent to its membership, in which the organization states that it didn't know of allegations against Clarke until after he was announced as this year's Contribution to Cinema recipient on March 29. It outlines BAFTA's treatment of the allegations as serious, but that, as an arts charity, BAFTA is "not in a position to properly investigate such matters."

"These were either anonymous or second or thirdhand accounts via intermediaries. No firsthand allegations were sent to us. No names, times, dates, productions or other details were ever provided," BAFTA says of the allegations it received. "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."

The letter continues: "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 firsthand specificity, we did not have sufficient grounds to take action."

Clarke's Bulletproof costar Ashley Walters also spoke out against the actor's alleged behavior, tweeting that his "thoughts are with the women who have come forward and told their awful stories," and that he was "in shock and deeply saddened" by the details.

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

DOCTOR WHO
David Tennant and Noel Clarke in 'Doctor Who'
| Credit: Everett Collection

Across his career, Clarke is known to viewers for his role as Mickey Smith on five seasons of Doctor Who, as well as his screenwriting and acting credits on the aforementioned Kidulthood series, which received immense praise from the British press for its representation of inner-city London youth.

Read BAFTA's full letter to its members regarding allegations against Clarke below.

Dear x

You may have seen the story in today's Guardian regarding BAFTA member and recent Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema (OBCC) award recipient Noel Clarke.   

We are grateful that The Guardian was able to provide a platform where the victims were able to identify themselves, and to come forward and tell their stories.  

As soon as The Guardian published firsthand accounts yesterday we immediately suspended the award and Noel Clarke's membership of BAFTA until further notice.  

We wanted to inform you of the background to this situation to give you the full picture. 

To be very clear, we did not know about any allegations relating to Noel Clarke prior to the announcement of the OBCC award on 29 March.  

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. 

In the days following the announcement, BAFTA received anonymous emails of allegations in relation to Noel Clarke. These were either anonymous or second or thirdhand accounts via intermediaries. No firsthand 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 firsthand specificity, we did not have sufficient grounds to take action.  

We completely understand why the individuals were extremely fearful to identify themselves to us, and we recognise how hard it is for victims to speak up. First, we encouraged them to report the incidents to their representatives, employers and/or the police. We then gave further advice as to which organisations could provide affected individuals with appropriate support. 

Additionally, we were conscious of how hard it is to report these issues and as a result we put in place an independent, appropriately qualified person with whom the victims could discuss the issues raised in a safe and confidential environment.  

The expert has a huge amount of experience working with individuals who have suffered sexual harassment, bullying and abuse and who understands the fear and reluctance of individuals to identify themselves. The expert is a leading advisor on establishing safe centres for women and is able to lead individuals through their different options. This process involved seeking advice on the correct individual, appointing them and fully briefing them. We wanted to ensure that we had the right person in place. 

We acted as quickly and supportively as we could, even though we had only received the most generic of claims and no actual firsthand information to investigate allegations which were potentially of a criminal nature.  

Having received the same anonymous emails, Noel Clarke contacted BAFTA, urgently requesting a conversation and sending numerous texts to do. We confronted him with the anonymous allegations, which he strongly denied. 

Our lawyers have advised us every step of the way during this process to ensure we handled the matter correctly. Given that we did not have any of the personal testimony that The Guardian produced we were in an invidious situation and it would have been improper to halt the award at that point based on the extremely limited information that we had where the ultimate sources were unknown. 

As you are aware, BAFTA has taken action against individuals who have been accused of similar behaviour in the past but in those cases we were able to do so because there was evidence that allowed us to take action. 

We very much regret that women felt unable to provide us with the kind of firsthand 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.

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