The British actor and director Noel Clarke has vowed to pursue a defamation suit against the newspaper that published an investigation into allegations that he had sexually harassed up to 20 women.
Between 2021 and 2022, British newspaper The Guardian published articles on its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against actor Noel Clarke.
In the first article, the paper reported that 20 women had made allegations including complaints of “unwanted touching or groping, sexually inappropriate behaviour and comments on set, and taking and sharing sexually explicit pictures and videos without consent.” Further articles added allegations from an additional 10 women.
Clarke, who rose to fame as Mickey Smith in ‘Doctor Who’ before writing, directing and starring in the Kidulthood film series, denied all the allegations described by the paper.
Following the release of The Guardian’s investigation, Clarke started legal proceedings against it, alleging defamation and seeking £10 million (€11.5 million) in damages.
In a High Court hearing last week, Mr Justice Johnson judged that seven out of eight articles presented gave “strong grounds to believe that the claimant is guilty of various forms of sexual harassment.” Therefore, the articles are defamatory.
Clarke has said his career in the media was destroyed by the publication of the investigation. A BAFTA lifetime achievement award, given to the actor the previous week, was suspended and the final episode of a show he was starring in at the time didn’t go to air.
With the High Court’s judgement that the articles weren’t an “expression of opinion” and were “defamatory”, Clarke is now free to pursue the paper for defamation.
“I have always disputed the content of the eight Guardian articles and I am satisfied that the High Court has now found that all eight articles issued by the defendant were defamatory in law,” Clarke said in a statement. “I look forward to receiving the Guardian's defence and progressing my claim for defamation in the High Court next year.”
It’s important to note that The Guardian didn’t dispute that articles were defamatory. A spokesperson for the paper said: “We welcome this judgement on meaning. The Guardian’s investigation was deeply reported and researched, and we intend to defend our journalism robustly.”