Women’s rights campaigners are dispirited by the news that sexual misconduct allegations against Clarke will not be investigated further
It’s been nearly a year since the Guardian published a story which sent shockwaves through the UK. The article, written by journalists Sirin Kale and Lucy Osborne, levelled sexual harassment allegations from 20 women against Doctor Who star and award-winning actor Noel Clarke.
Clarke was accused of groping, harassment and bullying back in April 2021. Actress Jahannah James accused him of filming a nude audition without her consent and showing it to a producer. Another woman told the Guardian that Clarke flashed her and groped her in a lift the next day. One woman claimed that Clarke said he planned to “fuck her and fire her”. Clarke apologised, but has always flatly denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.
Following the article’s publication, BAFTA withdrew Clarke’s Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award, Sky cancelled an upcoming show of his, and a further six women alleged that Clarke also harassed them. But Clarke is still yet to be investigated by police – and according to a statement released by the Met on Friday, March 25, he never will be.
“On Wednesday, 21 April 2021 police received a third party report relating to allegations of sexual offences allegedly committed by a male over a period of time. Following a thorough assessment by specialist detectives it was determined the information would not meet the threshold for a criminal investigation,” the statement read.
“We have shared our findings with the third party organisation and updated the complainants who subsequently contacted us following the initial report. If any further criminal allegations related to those already assessed are reported then it will be thoroughly considered.”
Speaking to Dazed, Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, expressed her dismay at the statement. “Sadly, this story is a tale as old as time. Sometimes it doesn't matter how many women come forward against one man, it feels like the system is built in favour of abusers,” she said. “This case reflects wider structural barriers for women who try to navigate the criminal justice system. Women need to feel like they are believed and taken seriously by the Met. Otherwise why would they feel safe to report the violent crimes committed against them?”
“Women's trust in the police is already incredibly low,” she continued. “When will the Met learn that they must start rebuilding this trust, rather than consistently letting women down?”
Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, was similarly disheartened. “Allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct should always be taken extremely seriously, no matter the status or power of the perpetrator,” she said. “The #MeToo disclosures and subsequent Time’s Up movement were supposedly a watershed moment for attitudes towards sexual assault in the entertainment industry, but it is clear that there is still a huge amount of work to be done to change attitudes and behaviours.”
“At its heart, sexual violence is about power, control and male entitlement. If such high profile and prolific allegations of abuse aren’t treated with the seriousness they deserve, what message does this send to survivors?” she continued. “The police response speaks volumes about a justice system that minimises violence against women, blames victims and routinely denies them justice. In England and Wales, we have seen plummeting charging in rape cases and convictions reach all-time lows – something we are also seeing in how the justice system treats domestic abuse.“
“It’s time to transform the justice system root and branch, and make sure women are heard, believed and supported to access justice.”
Dazed reached out to Noel Clarke’s representatives for comment but are yet to hear a response.