Bafta suspends UK actor Clarke over sexual misconduct claims

London (AFP) –


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) said Friday it treated sexual misconduct claims against actor and producer Noel Clarke with "utmost seriousness" after suspending his membership and a recent prize.

Around 20 women made allegations against the "Star Trek" and "Doctor Who" actor in a Guardian article published Thursday.

Bafta immediately moved to suspend his membership of the academy, and the prize it awarded him earlier this month for outstanding British contribution to cinema.

But the organisation faced questions about why he was given the prize despite claims already circulating against him, which he has "vehemently" denied.

Bafta said it was not aware of the allegations when it decided on the award in March, and only later received what it said were anonymous emails detailing second-hand accounts.

"We want to reassure you that we have treated this matter with the utmost seriousness, care and proper process at every stage," it said in a letter to members.

"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," it added.

"Had the victims gone on record as they have with The Guardian, the award would have been suspended immediately.

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

Clarke, who is currently appearing in ITV series "Viewpoint", gave an impassioned speech at the awards ceremony in support of diversity in the entertainment industry.

"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," he said in response to the allegations.

"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."

Clarke starred in 2013's "Star Trek Into Darkness" and wrote and featured in the main role in Britain's "Hood" trilogy of films, which shines a light on inner-city life in west London.