Bafta deputy chair defends honouring Noel Clarke: ‘This whole affair has been extremely difficult’

Actor was given Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema just weeks before being accused of sexual harassment and bullying

Ellie Harrison
Thursday 06 May 2021 11:05
Noel Clarke reflects on his Bafta rising star win

Bafta’s deputy chair, Dame Pippa Harris, has defended the academy’s decision to honour Noel Clarke despite warnings that allegations of sexual harassment were being made against him.

Harris said she stood by Bafta’s chair, Krishnendu Majumdar, and chief executive, Amanda Berry, after the decisions were made to award Clarke for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, and then to suspend his membership, respectively.

Last week, The Guardian reported that 20 women who knew Clarke in a professional capacity had made accusations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching or groping, sexually inappropriate behaviour and comments on set, professional misconduct, taking and sharing sexually explicit pictures and videos without consent, and bullying. The dates of the alleged incidents ranged between 2004 and 2019.

Clarke has “vehemently” denied allegations of sexual misconduct and criminal behaviour but apologised “deeply” for his actions and said he would be seeking professional help.

The day the accusations were published, Bafta suspended the Kidulthood star’s membership.

“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 on Wednesday (5 May).

“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.”

Harris insisted that calling for resignations of the Bafta board is not the way forward, and that before The Guardian report was published, the academy only had information about Clarke’s misconduct that was anonymous or second hand.

“If we had had one fraction of the information that The Guardian had had, we would never have given an award to Noel Clarke," she said.

“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.”

After the allegations were made public, the last episode of Clarke’s ITV show Viewpoint was pulled from the schedule, and Sky announced it was halting production of series four of Bulletproof.