LONDON (AFP) - The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) said on Friday (April 30) 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 on Thursday, including some who gave their names on the record.
The newspaper said the women had worked with Clarke and variously accused him of sexual harassment, groping, bullying, and taking sexually explicit images without consent, between 2004 and 2019.
Bafta immediately moved to suspend his membership of the academy in light of the report, and the prize it awarded him earlier this month for outstanding British contribution to cinema.
Bafta faced questions about why he was given the prize despite claims already circulating against him.
Clarke in a statement to the PA news agency said he "vehemently" denied "any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing".
He added, however, that "recent reports... 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," he said, adding he would be "seeking professional help to educate myself and change for the better".
Bafta said it was not aware of the allegations when it decided in March to give Clarke its award 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.
Two production companies - Sky and Vertigo Films - said they were now dropping their collaborations with him.