Ashley Walters has discussed his friendship with Noel Clarke following sexual harassment allegations against the actor.
The two actors starred together in TV series Bulletproof for three seasons, before it was cancelled in May last year by Sky after 20 women came forward to accuse Clarke of various wrongdoings, including bullying, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual contact. Clarke has “vehemently” denied any allegations of “sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing”.
Speaking to the Guardian, Walters addressed the allegations and reflected on his friendship with the actor.
“My relationship with Noel has always been… different,” said Walters. “We became friends while doing that show [Bulletproof]. We weren’t friends before. And not for any of the reasons that he has been accused of, but he’s just always been a difficult person.
“He’s notoriously a bullish businessman – and has that reputation. And we butted heads a lot through that experience, but I learned to love him over that period of time, and we developed a really close friendship.”
Addressing the allegations against Clarke directly, Walters added: “I just didn’t see any of it. Whether that makes me a bit naive or stupid or whatever, I don’t know. But my first instinct was to question myself: ‘How could you let this happen? Where were you?’ Because I just wouldn’t be able to stomach any of that.”
A day after the allegations emerged in April 2021, Walters posted a statement on Instagram saying that he was “in shock and saddened” – a move which prompted some criticism from close friends.
“When I brought out my statement, a lot of people that I know and love said that I shouldn’t have done it,” added Walters. “How can I leave him in the lurch like that? That’s your friend, he hasn’t been arrested. Innocent until proven guilty, all that stuff.
“But my stance was, ‘Look, I don’t know whether he’s guilty or innocent, but I don’t like any of it and I don’t condone any of that stuff. And I side with the women. Obviously, there’s a thing where women are scared to tell their story, so I applaud them for being brave enough to do this.”