The Guardian has reported allegations of groping, harassment and bullying by Noel Clarke from 20 women he has worked with in the past.
The story is quoted below. It's a long read.
I'm really angry and disappointed. Clarke really seemed like a good guy - he's been someone I've really rooted for, whether it was in Doctor Who as companion Mickey Smith, or in his other screen work such as his role in ITV drama Viewpoint. It's disgusting.
The story is quoted below. It's a long read.
‘Sexual predator’: actor Noel Clarke accused of groping, harassment and bullying by 20 women
When Noel Clarke appeared on stage at the Royal Albert Hall on 10 April to collect his Bafta, the typically self-assured actor looked a little on edge. Viewers might have concluded that Clarke was simply overwhelmed: he was clutching one of the most prestigious accolades bestowed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the prize for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.
- Actor-producer categorically denies allegations from all 20 women
- Bafta suspends outstanding contribution award and actor’s membership
- Alleged misconduct including claims he secretly filmed naked audition
- Doctor Who and Kidulthood star allegedly showed colleagues sexually explicit photos and videos of women
Yet there were other reasons why Clarke – and Bafta – may have felt preoccupied.
Thirteen days before presenting Clarke with his award, a Guardian investigation can reveal, Bafta was informed about the existence of several allegations of verbal abuse, bullying and sexual harassment against Clarke.
Bafta does not dispute it received anonymous emails and reports of allegations via intermediaries, but said it was provided with no evidence that would allow it to investigate.
Clarke also became aware of the allegations, which he vehemently denies. As he stepped off the stage holding his gong, Clarke’s reputation remained publicly unblemished; not just as an actor, producer, screenwriter and director, but one who could now claim to be one of British film and television’s most lauded stars.
Yet Bafta’s decision to venerate Clarke moved numerous women to break their silence. They allege Clarke is a serial abuser of women, using his power in the industry to prey on and harass female colleagues, and sometimes bully those who fall out of favour.
Clarke accepting his Bafta for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema on 10 April. Bafta’s decision to venerate Clarke moved numerous women to break their silence. Photograph: Thomas Alexander/Rex/Shutterstock for Bafta
The Guardian has spoken to 20 women, all of whom knew Clarke in a professional capacity. They variously accuse him 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 between 2004 and 2019.
Clarke said in a statement: “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. 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.”
Through his lawyers, Clarke categorically denied every allegation that the Guardian put to him, bar one, accepting he once made inappropriate comments about one woman, for which he later apologised, but denying the rest of her complaints. In a 29-page letter, his lawyers said he categorically denies all of the other allegations, from all 20 women, in some cases questioning their credibility. They deny their client is a serial sexual predator.
Bafta confirmed in a statement that, following its 29 March announcement that it planned to give Clarke the award, it received “anonymous emails and reports of allegations via intermediaries, but no evidence was provided”. Lawyers for Bafta said the charity had no duty to investigate Clarke, but, in any case, it was never given any information to enable it to do so and at no stage was it in a position where it could even begin to consider investigating.
“We take this matter extremely seriously,” Bafta added. “We encouraged the people who contacted us to report the matter to the appropriate authorities and also engaged an independent victim support expert to provide them with professional advice, and that support remains in place.
“We will continue to review this matter, and should any allegations be substantiated we will take appropriate action.”
After this article was published, Bafta updated its statement. “In light of the Guardian’s piece, which for Bafta provided for the first time detailed accounts outlining serious allegations regarding Noel Clarke’s conduct, we have immediately suspended the award and Noel Clarke’s membership of Bafta until further notice.”
Prolific and influential film-maker
Clarke is one of the most prolific actors and film-makers in the UK. His trio of films Kidulthood (2006), Adulthood (2008) and Brotherhood (2016) were celebrated for their portrayal of inner-city life and grossed £8.6m.
Clarke writes, executive produces and stars alongside Ashley Walters in Bulletproof, one of Sky’s biggest shows; series 4 is in pre-production. His company, Unstoppable Film & Television, has produced more than 10 films, in addition to Bulletproof and the Channel 5 drama The Drowning. He is on Bafta’s influential film committee and is a mentor for ITV, bringing him into contact with young, aspiring screenwriters. Only this week, Clarke has been starring in ITV’s new flagship prime time drama, Viewpoint, airing each evening from Monday to Friday.
Gina Powell worked for Clarke as a producer between September 2014 and March 2017, producing Brotherhood. She told the Guardian that Clarke would constantly harass her, on one occasion telling her that, when he hired her, he had planned “to **** her and fire her” before deciding to keep her on. She also alleges that Clarke would brag about storing sexually explicit pictures and videos on his hard drive, including footage he told her he had secretly filmed during naked auditions.
Jahannah James with Noel Clarke.
Powell says Clarke once showed her a secretly recorded video of one such audition with Jahannah James, an actor in Brotherhood. Powell told four people about Clarke’s alleged secret filming, all of whom confirmed the conversation to the Guardian. They include James, her friend, whom she told about the incident in the winter of 2017, in a pub in south London. The naked audition had taken place more than four years previously, for the film Legacy. Powell was able to describe the exact haircut James had at that time – her hair is usually long and blond, but after a “hair disaster” she had cropped it short and returned to her natural brown.
James recalls Clarke had talked her into auditioning for the role. She had been hesitant. She was only 23 and fresh out of drama school. But Clarke persuaded her, explaining that the naked audition wouldn’t be filmed; an email from her agent confirmed this agreement. “I was told 100% it was not going to be on camera,” James says. As she understood it, the naked audition was purely to check she could do the scene and wasn’t going to “bottle it” on the day.
The audition was mortifying, James recalls, and afterwards she pulled out of the running for the role; she didn’t want one of her first acting jobs to be nude. The Guardian spoke to two friends of Powell and James who were also present in the pub that day and recalled the emotional exchange. “I was so upset,” James recalls. “Now, years later, I still cry when I talk about it.”
Clarke denies ever covertly filming naked auditions or sharing such footage with Powell. A casting director who was present at James’s audition said there was “absolutely no way” Clarke would have covertly filmed it, even without her knowledge. “He’s always been a good guy,” she said.
The Guardian also contacted others who worked with Clarke who either declined to comment or spoke positively of him. They include a makeup artist who said she had had “a really great working relationship with Noel” on the projects they had worked on together, and an actor who said suggestions of misconduct did not tally with her experiences of Clarke, whom she described as “generous and supportive”.
Others said Clarke was supportive of fellow actors, but at times sought to exploit those relationships.
Clarke helped James get into drama school, when she was 22, and secured a discount on her fees. After she finished, in the summer of 2012, she says, Clarke joked about going upstairs to have sex in a hotel where they were meeting. She believes she and other alleged victims were “young and naive” when Clarke gave them professional opportunities and “that’s why this has taken so long to come out”.
Powell and James were initially reticent about making public accusations against a man they believe wields considerable power in their industry.
Despite this, Powell and James, and several of the women the Guardian spoke to, have agreed to go on the record with their real names, hoping that doing so will ensure they are believed. Others, including well-known actors, wish to remain anonymous – their pseudonyms are marked with an asterisk. The women work at almost every level of the film-making hierarchy and represent a range of races and ethnicities.
“I want people to know, because I hate the idea that he can secretly film young actresses – who have no idea that they’re not supposed to be getting naked in auditions – and go on to get a Bafta,” says James.
Synne Seltveit says Clarke slapped her backside. Photograph: Provided by Synna Seltveit
According to numerous accounts, Clarke showed colleagues sexually explicit photos and videos of women, or implied he had access to them. He is also accused of unsolicited sharing of sexually explicit images.
Through his lawyers, Clarke denied in the strongest possible terms that he ever sexually harassed or bullied Powell, or treated her in the way she alleges. They said Clarke does not have a hard drive containing naked photographs of women and denies covertly filming naked auditions, including one of James, or showing such footage to Powell. They described such allegations as false and defamatory.
The Norwegian film producer Synne Seltveit met Clarke in July 2015. She is friends with Powell from film school. Powell introduced her to Clarke at the private members’ club Soho House in London, where Unstoppable held business meetings. Clarke and a friend had VIP tickets to a UFC mixed martial arts fight in Glasgow and invited Powell and Seltveit. At the afterparty, Seltveit says, Clarke smacked her buttocks. “I didn’t like that,” she says.
On 23 July 2015, Seltveit sent an email from her production company account, thanking him for the weekend and expressing an interest in working with him one day. Clarke replied, from his Unstoppable account. “Great meeting you,” he said. “Would love to work with you one day.” A second email arrived. “Also. Sent you some Snapchats. Have a look.” When Seltveit checked Snapchat, Clarke had sent her a picture of a naked, erect penis.
Clarke denies he slapped Seltveit’s backside and said he did not recall sending her an unsolicited picture of his penis. His lawyers said it was “highly unlikely” that Clarke would have shared such an image. Seltveit showed the Guardian a copy of the “dick pic”, which was labelled as having been shared with her by Clarke.
Another woman to accuse Clarke of inappropriate sharing of images is Ieva Sabaliauskaite, a production assistant on Brotherhood. At the wrap party on 21 December 2015, Sabaliauskaite was on the dancefloor, showing colleagues her abilities as a former gymnast, including doing the splits. The next day, Sabaliauskaite saw Clarke in the production office, surrounded by a group of people. “They were sniggering and looking at me,” she says.
Sabaliauskaite says Clarke was showing them a photo he had taken of her in a compromising position, her underwear visible. Three other witnesses told the Guardian they recalled Clarke boasting about his photograph of Sabaliauskaite. Sabaliauskaite says she remembers the image of her knickers on Clarke’s phone so clearly that she “could draw it”. She recalls feeling mortified: “It’s kind of a massive humiliation.”
She instinctively lunged for Clarke’s phone; the phone dropped, breaking the screen. “He was angry,” she recalls. Sabaliauskaite says she took the phone containing the photo he had taken of her, a junior employee, to a repair shop to get it fixed. “It was the final act of humiliation,” she says. Clarke’s lawyers stressed the photograph was of Sabaliauskaite publicly doing the splits in the middle of the dancefloor and that it was not taken “up her skirt”, adding that many people present at the party would confirm this. Clarke, they added, had later merely “joked” about showing the image to colleagues. They confirmed Clarke asked Sabaliauskaite to fix the screen, saying she was “a production runner and such a task was part of her job”.
Allegations of unwanted sexual contact
Several women also allege that Clarke would at times subject them to unwanted physical contact, kissing them, groping them or subjecting them to unsolicited sexual behaviour. They include Powell, who has given the Guardian detailed accounts of events she alleges took place during a work trip with Clarke to Los Angeles in August 2015. On one occasion, she says, Clarke exposed himself in a car. She recalls telling him: “Noel, that’s not right.”
Clarke and Gina Powell at the premiere of Brotherhood in 2016. Photograph: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
The next day, Powell says Clarke took her for lunch and scolded her. “He told me I made him feel like an old man.” After lunch, Clarke and Powell headed to a business meeting. Alone in a lift, Powell says she was groped by her boss, who told her he had got “what he was owed”. Powell recalls pushing him away: “I said: “‘That’s so not on.’”
Clarke’s lawyers strongly denied Powell’s account of the alleged incidents in LA. They accused her of being flirtatious and suggestive toward him.
Leila*, a crew member on a film that Clarke acted in and produced, told the Guardian of a similar incident involving being subjected to an unwanted sexual contact from Clarke, which she alleges took place in a storage room on set. “He is a bully as well as a sexual predator,” she says. Clarke’s lawyers said it was impossible for him to respond in any detail to the allegation because of the lack of details provided, but that he strongly denies the allegation.
Leila says she didn’t feel she could report the incident to anyone on set, because Clarke was a producer, although she confided in her boyfriend about the incident in 2018. (The Guardian has spoken with Leila’s boyfriend, who remembers their conversation.) “It affects how you see yourself professionally,” Leila says. “It feels so frightening to think I’d been used by someone who could see that I was vulnerable.”
In 2004, Mel* acted in Clarke’s debut feature film, Kidulthood. She was a teenager when she auditioned and was intimidated by Clarke, who was a decade older than her. “He was an older man and he wrote the script,” she explains. One day near the start of filming, she alleges, he “put his tongue in my mouth”. After that, she says, the sexual harassment was constant. Mel says Clarke would grab her as she walked past on set, touch her waist and try to kiss her. She says she didn’t feel she could say anything, as Kidulthood was Clarke’s film. “It’s upsetting for me to realise how ****ing vulnerable and inexperienced I was at that age,” says Mel. “I was too scared to say anything.” Clarke strongly denies he sexually harassed or groped anyone on the set of Kidulthood.
When Clarke started putting together Adulthood, which was filmed in 2007, he asked Mel to appear in the sequel. “I read the script and there was quite a full-on sex scene with Noel,” says Mel. Due to Clarke’s history of sexually harassing her, Mel says, she didn’t feel safe filming a sex scene with him. When she refused to do the scene, she says, Clarke threatened her career. “He said: ‘You’ll never work again.’” She describes Clarke as a “sexual predator”, adding that he “is toxic and hiding in plain sight”. Clarke denies such a characterisation and making any such threat.
Anna Avramenko says Clarke tried to kiss her on set. Photograph: Courtesy of Anna Avramenko
In summer 2008, the assistant film director Anna Avramenko was an intern on the film Doghouse. Clarke was appearing in the film and approached her on set: “He started trying to kiss me on the lips, in front of everyone.” She says she made it clear to Clarke that she did not want him to kiss her, turning her cheek and telling him she had a boyfriend. “He probably tried it like three to five times with me, maybe more,” she says. Clarke strongly denies the allegations.
Clarke’s alleged harassment involved women who worked in all kinds of roles: from intern to actor to art director or producer. Becky* worked as a crew member on a film Clarke made in 2011. One day, she alleges, Clarke pinned her against the wall of his dressing room. “I made a split-second decision that ‘being one of the boys’ was the best way to get out of the situation, so I laughed it off and wriggled free,” she says. “But it made me very uncomfortable and it was not acceptable.” Clarke’s lawyers said it was impossible for him to respond in any detail to this allegation, given the lack of details provided, but that he strongly denies the allegation.
Allegations of sexual harassment
People who have worked with Clarke describe him as someone who will use his power as a director, writer and producer to target female co-stars and crew, sometimes – they allege – introducing himself to female colleagues by telling them he is a sex addict. Clarke’s lawyers dispute the characterisation of their client as a powerful figure in the industry, saying he worked his way up in the industry and was never in a position of complete autonomy and authority.
The actor and screenwriter Jing Lusi, who has starred in Crazy Rich Asians and Gangs of London, worked with Clarke on the film SAS: Red Notice, shot in Budapest in 2018. Clarke invited Lusi for dinner on 27 November 2018. During the meal, Clarke summoned the waiter for the cheque before Lusi had finished eating. She asked what the hurry was. According to Lusi, Clarke said that he wanted them to go to his place to have sex. She recalls laughing in disbelief. “He said he couldn’t help it: ‘It’s how you make me feel, I just really want to,’” she says. “Really laying it on thick and grossly and quite explicitly.”
According to Lusi’s account, when she made it clear she would not have sex with Clarke, his demeanour changed. Lusi says: “After he realised that it was not going to happen, he then absolutely without any emotion [said]: ‘All right, fine, don’t tell anyone about this, yeah? ’Cause if you do, it will get back to me, I will find out.’”
The next morning, Clarke sent her an emoji of a person with their finger to their lips, which she took as an indication that she should not tell anyone about his inappropriate behaviour. But Lusi did tell friends and others how disturbed she was by the incident. A friend she contacted three days afterwards recalls: “She messaged me and said: ‘Dude I’ve been #MeTooed at work by another actor and then sworn to secrecy and threatened.’”
The actor Jing Lusi says Clarke told her he would ‘find out’ if she revealed that he had propositioned her for sex. Photograph: Sipa US/Alamy
“I told everyone at the time, because I didn’t want Noel to think he could do that to me, or anyone else,” says Lusi. “You can’t just harass someone and silence them. I couldn’t do something about being sexually harassed, but he couldn’t stop me speaking out about it.” Clarke strongly denies he either harassed or threatened Lusi into silence. His lawyers described events at the dinner as consensual flirting and said the emoji related to Clarke keeping silent about their dinner because Lusi “did not want people to know”.
On 14 January 2019, Lusi bumped into Clarke’s publicist, Emily Hargreaves of Multitude Media, at a screening of the TV series Pure at Bafta. Lusi recalls: “I said to Emily: ‘You represent Noel. He sexually harassed me and threatened me.’” The next day, Lusi messaged Hargreaves, suggesting they go for a coffee. Hargreaves did not take up the offer. Lawyers for Multitude Media said Hargreaves “does not recollect” Lusi informing her of allegations about Clarke.
However, the lawyers said that, over the weekend Clarke was awarded the Bafta, Hargreaves was contacted by a client, an actor, who made direct allegations against Clarke. Hargreaves took appropriate action, they added, including steps to support her client. They said Hargreaves suspended representation of Clarke on 11 April, pending an investigation. She formally “terminated” her relationship with Clarke on Tuesday.
Several other actors who appeared alongside Clarke allege he repeatedly sexually harassed them during filming. So, too, do female colleagues in other roles. Chantal* worked with Clarke in the costume department of a project he was acting in and also producing. It is industry standard for actors to get dressed in trailers on set, but Clarke, she says, insisted on changing in his hotel room. “Because he was the producer it was not really questioned,” says Chantal.
Every morning, Chantal had to bring Clarke’s costume to his hotel. “I felt uneasy,” she says. She would normally leave the room when talent was getting dressed, unless a costume was particularly difficult to get into; Clarke’s was easy to put on, but he insisted she remain in the room as he changed. “He would say: ‘You stay here,’” she says. “I never said: ‘Oh no, I’m going to go.’ Because he kept reminding me he was the producer. It would always be like: do you know who I am?”
As Clarke got changed, she says, he would leer at her. “He would say I had a really nice body and that, if he hadn’t married his wife, I would have been ideal.” Clarke would sit next to her on set, talking about how she looked “and how amazing I am”, she says, “and how he could make my career. And then he would touch my knee.”
Chantal called her mother, stressed and upset. “I know my daughter, and I know her voice, and I could feel she was really deeply concerned,” her mother says of the phone call.
Clarke denies all of Chantal’s allegations; his lawyers said he could not recall getting changed in a hotel room and asking someone to stay.
Clarke often writes explicit sex scenes and stars in them himself. Critics have taken issue with the gratuitous female nudity in his films and TV shows, naked women often appearing as little more than set dressing. The opening scenes of 220.127.116.11 feature an upskirt shot of a young woman; in Legacy, which Clarke produced, one of the female leads is fully nude for most of her time on screen.
Helen Atherton was an art director on Brotherhood and alleges that Clarke violated industry norms for the ethical filming of sex or nude scenes. Clarke’s production team hired strippers to perform some scenes, instead of professional actors who, Atherton says, would be aware of industry-standard protocols during shoots involving nudity.
When actors are unclothed, monitors should be kept on to a minimum – with just the director, producer, costume and makeup crew watching. During filming of at least one nude scene in Brotherhood, Atherton says, the actors did not feel protected.
Helen Atherton alleges that Clarke violated industry norms for the ethical filming of sex or nude scenes. Photograph: Provided by Helen Atherton
“There were about 10 random people behind me, watching [on monitors],” says Atherton. “It appeared they turned up to watch the naked girls.” Atherton felt the female performers were being disrespected. “The duty of care was not there for the girls,” she says. Clarke was the film’s writer, director, star and producer and was the person directing the scene.
Clarke denies mistreating female actors during sex scenes and insists the set was “closed”, with a very limited number of people present.
In a shoot on 1 December 2015, a female extra was straddling a male actor on set. “The camera was right behind her,” Atherton recalls. “She was completely naked. And I know for a fact we could never have used that shot, because you could see up her bum hole.” The Guardian has spoken to other crew members on Brotherhood who have a similar recollection of the straddling scene. Atherton recalls another actor was asked to play with her naked breasts on camera. “I remember thinking at the time: surely they wouldn’t be able to use half the stuff they were filming.”
In disgust, Atherton texted her then partner. “Today they had two really unnecessary naked girls, one playing with her boobs and one straddles a bloke and bends over totally naked bum facing camera! It’s porn basically! Neither added anything or were needed and they weren’t in the script.”
Clarke’s lawyers said they did not dispute that such a scene had been shot, but said it was in the script and agreed in advance. Informed by the Guardian that there was no reference to a female performer straddling a male performer, or anything that could be interpreted as requiring that, Clarke’s lawyers queried which version of the script was being referred to and said there was “a degree of improvisation” that performers and crew were all comfortable with.
They said any shot of an actor’s anus caught on camera would “never have intended to be shown” and the set was “closed”, with a very limited number of people present. They said the actor playing with her breasts had been improvising and rejected any comparison to pornography.
On set, Atherton says she recalls Clarke showing her naked photographs sent by women to his phone. She, too, accuses him of sexually harassing her on a daily basis during production. She says: “He would make constant comments about my bum and he would come up to me with his arms stretched, with a little tilt of the head and a coy smile, you know, nodding down to my bum, and saying: ‘Come on, come on, give me a hug then.’”
She says she complained to Clarke and her superiors and the misconduct stopped. Clarke’s lawyers said he admitted to making comments about Atherton’s backside “numerous times” and said he was “embarrassed by such behaviour” and apologised at the time.
In 2018, Kim*, an actor, worked on a production Clarke was starring in and producing. She also recounts behaviour on set she believes was highly inappropriate. During filming, Clarke would stand very close to her on set “and look my body up and down”, says Kim. In between takes, Clarke asked Kim if she had ever had a threesome. “I would try and switch topics,” says Kim. One day on set, Kim says, Clarke came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, before kissing her neck. “I had to laugh it off,” she says. “I felt annoyed at myself.” Clarke denies the allegations.
The characters played by Kim and Clarke were scripted to perform a sex scene. When Kim accepted the role, she had been told she would be able to wear underwear, including a bra, during the scene. But in the run-up to filming, she says, Clarke repeatedly pressed her to go topless. “He kept saying: ‘It needs to be real.’”
Clarke called her on the phone to put pressure on her, she says. “Every time I saw his number come up, my heart would race and my palms would go sweaty,” she recalls. She did not feel comfortable going nude in the sex scene and refused. During filming of the scene, between takes, she says Clarke would stroke her. “If felt like he was hiding in plain sight,” she says.
She was distressed throughout the filming of the sex scene, but didn’t feel she could say anything, because Clarke was a producer – and therefore her boss. “I had a horrible time,” she says. “It was #MeToo ****.” Another crew member recalled that “she wanted to wear pants and a bra” and that “Noel was angry about that and wanted her to be nude”.
Clarke’s lawyers stated the actor requested a change to the scene and said Clarke called her to discuss it. They denied Clarke pressing her to change the scene, which they said was done “the way she wanted it”, and denied he stroked her in a sensual way between takes. However, they said Clarke discovered in December 2020 that the actor was “distressed” during the filming of the scene and called her to apologise for commenting on her body, a remark he said was intended to “make her feel better as he knew she was feeling insecure about the scene”.
Clarke often projects the image of a considerate film-maker, with a strong moral code. He recently tweeted: “Be good, be kind, be respectful.” The reality, according to the people the Guardian has spoken to, is that Clarke can be charming, thoughtful and fun – but also intimidating, domineering and scary. The word “bully” comes up repeatedly.
“It was one of my first jobs in film, and I was 23, and I didn’t really know anything about the industry … I let the bullying happen, because I didn’t know any different,” says Philippa Crabb, a producer and podcaster. “I was so young; I was scared to say something.”
In November 2015, Crabb worked as a runner on Brotherhood. Clarke was the lead actor, producer, writer and director. Crabb’s job was to drive him to and from work, meaning a lot of time alone with Clarke in the car.
It was just constant, inappropriate comments. He was always trying to steer the conversation towards sex
“It was just constant, inappropriate comments,” Crabb says. “He was always trying to steer the conversation towards sex.” Clarke secured Crabb a small role. “He said to me: ‘So I’ve got you this nurse’s role, what are you going to do for me?’ And I was like: ‘I am going to act really well in the part.’ And he was like: ‘No, obviously. But what are you going to do for me?’ I didn’t know what to say.” She adds: “It felt like he took advantage of the fact that he was in a powerful position.”
Crabb began to dread their car journeys. One morning, she was 10 minutes late to collect Clarke. Powell was in the back seat. “He literally screamed at us in the car,” recalls Crabb. “I was completely in shock. I’ve never had someone scream at me before.” She says she was fearful of Clarke and learned to placate him when he was yelling at her. “He’s a scary person,” she says. Powell said she could not recall the specifics of the car journey, other than that Clark “yelled” at the runner because she was late. Clarke denies bullying or sexually harassing Crabb, denies he is a scary person and denies shouting at her in the car.
During the filming of Brotherhood, Clarke also allegedly bullied and sexually harassed a young female script supervisor, Megan*. On set, she says Clarke would whisper sexually explicit things in her ear and sit too close to her.
Clarke would also openly bully her, she says. On one occasion, Megan was supervising a scene that was technically very difficult, because it had not been properly rehearsed. Clarke asked Megan where he had been standing in an earlier shot. “I didn’t know, because it was chaos,” says Megan. She was only 23. “He just started screaming abuse at me, saying: ‘Why are you even here then?’ It was awful,” she says. “And I was just sat there like: OK, don’t cry in front of everybody.”
Clarke on the set of Adulthood. He is accused of sexually harassing several actors who worked on the Kidulthood series of films. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy
The bullying became so severe, she says, that one day she had a panic attack on set. “I remember thinking: it’s too small in here, I’m going to have to be pinned in a corner with Noel for the next two hours. I had a huge panic attack; I went blue.” An ambulance was called. After paramedics checked Megan over, Crabb drove Megan home. She remembers Megan telling her she had a panic attack because Clarke was being “horrible” to her. “She was really upset,” Crabb recalls. Megan didn’t return to the production, leaving an industry she loved to work in sales.
Clarke denies sexually harassing or bullying anyone during the production of Brotherhood. He accepts he had a “heated discussion” with Megan over the script, for which he apologised. His lawyers said Clarke confirmed Megan had a panic attack, “but not that it was as a result of anything he did or said”.
Powell stopped working for Unstoppable in March 2017. When she parted with the company, she was involved in a dispute with Clarke over £3,000 she says he owed her. Clarke denies Powell was owed the money and his lawyers cited the financial dispute as the reason she was making “false allegations”.
She started work at another film company in a development role, but would avoid walking anywhere near the branch of Soho House that Clarke uses for business meetings. The following year, in 2018, Powell says that the years of alleged abuse really hit her. Leaving Unstoppable, Powell says, “was like trying to get out of an abusive relationship”.
The Guardian has spoken to Powell’s therapist, who confirmed the producer had sought therapy because of the trauma of her experience while working at Unstoppable. Clarke’s lawyers said he regrets if Powell feels that way about her work at his production company.
Crabb’s experience on Brotherhood was so awful that she quit the industry, moved to Switzerland and worked in a ski resort. “I left the film industry for three years because of him,” she says of Clarke. “I only came back a few years ago and started from the bottom again.”
James Krishna Floyd, a 2013 Bafta Breakthrough Brit and a star of ITV’s The Good Karma Hospital, has been in touch with a number of women who have made allegations against Clarke. He says the industry needs to improve its approach to safeguarding. “For the sake of survivors, our industry must change radically,” Krishna Floyd says. “Every organisation with any power or duty of care should start implementing proper, efficient systems to prevent any alleged abuse from happening.”
‘They still have to prove it’
In recent weeks, after discovering that allegations of sexual misconduct against Clarke had surfaced and been reported to Bafta, and were being investigated by the Guardian, Clarke and his business partner, Jason Maza, contacted people who might know what was going on. At least five people who were contacted allege or say they witnessed sexual misconduct by Clarke. In at least two cases, the Guardian understands those contacted were left in tears.
One recipient of a call from Clarke was James, whom he called on 10 April – the day he received the award. When she returned his repeated calls on 14 April, he asked her who might be behind the allegations. “I just need to get to the bottom of it. But if I can eliminate you … there’s only two suspects left,” he said.
He repeatedly asked her not to speak to a Guardian journalist. “I would just ask you if the good times meant anything. Do not speak to this woman [the Guardian journalist] … Do not entertain it. Just ****ing – just please do not, that’s all.”
Clarke and Jason Maza have contacted at least five people who allege or say they witnessed sexual misconduct by Clarke. Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images
Clarke said he had not done the things he was being accused of, adding: “If there’s someone that was like a consensual that’s changed their mind five years later, well, firstly, that’s ****ing ridiculous. Secondly, they still have to prove it. And I’m not trying to be that guy that’s like: hahaha I’m guilty, prove it. I’m not trying to be that guy. But they still have to prove it.”
Before hanging up, Clarke said he would apologise to any women he may have made sexually inappropriate remarks about. “If a bunch of people go: he commented on my bum, or he mentioned my tits, it’s like– why do you need to take it this far?” said Clarke. “I’ll just say sorry to you. Tell me and I’ll be like: I’m so sorry. You’re right, I said that, I was wrong.”
Maza made similar calls, although Clarke’s lawyers said they were not at the request of their client. Maza’s lawyers described his calls as approaches to “friends in the industry” after hearing allegations were surfacing about Clarke that were “untrue”.
On a call on 10 April to a woman with allegations about Clarke, Maza said he did not want to put pressure on her, but, if the Guardian’s article did come out, “that’s Unstoppable done, you know, that’s me for the short term done”.
In a separate phone call to an alleged victim, Maza stated: “I mean, we know Noel 100% has done things where he needs to put his hand up for and he has been inappropriate at times and whatever.” Maza’s lawyers suggested the remark was not a reference to the allegations women have now come forward with.
In another call, on 11 April, Maza offered a woman an in-person meeting with Clarke, who he said would apologise. “If you want that sit down at any point with Noel,” he said, “whether it’s with lawyers there or me there, whatever you want, for him to apologise, I know he will, he will do that.” Clarke, he said, had hired private investigators, adding “the money he’s already spent is just insane”.
Clarke’s lawyer said any admissions made by Maza on the calls do not represent an admission by their client, or evidence the allegations were true. They added the private investigators were hired to find out who was behind anonymous emails making allegations against Clarke.
The following day, 12 April, Maza placed a fourth call, telling a woman that he and Clarke were under the impression the story had “now gone away”. He sounded relieved. “Obviously, this article hasn’t broken in the Guardian and it won’t run in the Guardian now,” he said, adding: “As far as we’re concerned, the thing has now gone away as much as Noel can do in his power.”
Additional reporting by Alex Mistlin
I'm really angry and disappointed. Clarke really seemed like a good guy - he's been someone I've really rooted for, whether it was in Doctor Who as companion Mickey Smith, or in his other screen work such as his role in ITV drama Viewpoint. It's disgusting.