BAFTA’s deputy chair has defended the academy’s decision to award Noel Clarke after it was told about allegations of sexual assault, harassment and bullying against the star.
Dame Pippa Harris said had the awards body known “one fraction of the information” detailed in The Guardian‘s exposé then it would not have proceeded to honour him with its Outstanding Contribution to Cinema award last month.
Sky News asked Harris why BAFTA made a trained expert available to Clarke’s accusers after he was awarded in order to give them professional advice – two weeks after it first learnt about some of the claims.
“If we had had one fraction of the information that the Guardian had had, we would never have given an award to Noel Clarke,” Harris told the broadcaster.
“That is obvious, but we didn’t have that information. The first time that we saw the actual allegations against him was when they were published by the Guardian newspaper and as soon as we saw the allegations, we suspended the award.”
Clarke has denied all of the allegations except for one, accepting he once made inappropriate comments about one woman.
Harris added that she supported BAFTA’s chair, Krishnendu Majumdar, and its chief executive, Amanda Berry, on the decision to give Clarke the honour and then suspend both his award and membership once the allegations were made public by The Guardian.
“This whole affair has been extremely difficult, as you can imagine, for everyone involved, and Krish has worked all the way through together with the board,” Harris told Sky News.
“It has been a joint decision-making process. Krish has not been doing anything on his own. So any criticism that has been levelled at Bafta should be levelled at everybody. It is really not right to single people out.
“Everything that Krish did, he did with the full endorsement and knowledge of the board.”
Several industry figures contacted BAFTA with the warnings after it announced it would be awarding Clarke. The academy has said the claims left it in the “invidious position” of wanting to follow up on the complaints but was given no evidence with which to proceed.
It added that at no stage was it in a position where it could begin to consider investigating, and senior members of BAFTA tried unsuccessfully to speak to people involved to establish the veracity of their claims before the award was due to be handed out.
In light of the news, Clarke has apologised but has continued to deny his actions. “I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing,” he said through his lawyers in a statement.
“Recent reports, however, have made it clear to me that some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise.
“To those individuals, I am deeply sorry. I will be seeking professional help to educate myself and change for the better.”