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Noel Clarke: Actor faced ‘trial by media’ after sexual misconduct allegations, court hears | Ents & Arts News


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Actor Noel Clarke faced a “trial by media” after The Guardian newspaper published allegations of sexual misconduct, a court has heard. 

The 47-year-old is suing the newspaper’s publishers Guardian News and Media (GNM) for libel over eight articles – including its April 2021 investigation that said 20 women who knew Mr Clarke in a professional capacity had come forward with allegations of misconduct.

In a statement at the time, he “vehemently” denied “any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing”.

In a preliminary hearing at the High Court on Thursday, Adam Speker KC, Mr Clarke’s lawyer, said the “overall impression” of the articles was “plainly one of guilt”.

Mr Speker said the first article in the claim included the “absolutely toxic allegation” of Mr Clarke being a “sexual predator”.

“They knew exactly what message they were sending by calling him a sexual predator, in the first two words of the headline,” he told the court in London.

The overall impression of the articles was “gotcha”, Mr Speker said.

“He [Mr Clarke] had had a very distinguished career… then the dam breaks, the women break their silence and they say ‘j’accuse’.”

Mr Clarke, who was best known for his roles in Doctor Who and Kidulthood, had his Bafta membership suspended after the allegations emerged, while TV channels cut ties.

“This trial by media, conducted by the most-read newspaper for people in the film and entertainment industry, led, unsurprisingly, to Mr Clarke being immediately ‘cancelled’ in various ways,” Mr Speker said in written submissions.

Noel Clarke arriving at the Royal Courts of Justice, central London, for a preliminary hearing in his libel claim against the publisher of The Guardian newspaper

The court was later told the police had decided no criminal investigation would be launched over the sexual offence allegations against Mr Clarke.

Scotland Yard said in a statement in March 2022 that there had been a thorough assessment by specialist detectives, but they had decided the information would not meet the threshold for a criminal investigation.

While Mr Clarke’s denials were included in The Guardian’s reporting, Mr Speker said it “comes nowhere near close” to mitigating the impact of the articles.

“There is nothing he could say and nothing he does say that minimises what the natural and ordinary reader would have taken from the articles: that he is a sexual predator and is guilty of the charges,” he said.

Gavin Millar KC, representing GNM, said the articles would be read as reporting “reasonable grounds to suspect” Mr Clarke had abused his power, bullied or sexually harassed women, rather than a direct allegation of guilt.

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“The appropriate meaning is therefore a general charge, essentially of abuse of power to subject women to sexual harassment and other related misconduct,” Mr Millar said in written submissions.

“In this context, no reasonable reader would assume an allegation is true merely because it has been made.”

Mr Millar also said a normal reader would understand the claims against Mr Clarke were a matter of public interest.

The hearing before Mr Justice Johnson is due to conclude on Thursday with a decision expected at a later date.

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Written by: lwrradio

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