Bafta spent two weeks deciding how best to respond to allegations against actor Noel Clarke prior to presenting him with an award, it has been reported.
The Guardian said on Friday the film academy was made aware of allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and verbal abuse shortly after it announced its intention to honour Clarke with an award for outstanding British contribution to cinema.
It added that senior figures within the film academy were worried about the potential reputational damage to the organisation over its handling of the claims against Clarke.
The actor, who was given the award earlier this month, has said he “vehemently” denies allegations of sexual misconduct but has apologised for his actions.
The Guardian said Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar was aware there could be as many as 12 women making allegations against Clarke on the eve of the awards ceremony.
He sought to speak to anyone with first-hand experience of Clarke’s alleged misconduct and told an industry figure he was “trying to do something about” the situation as it could “destroy” Bafta “in the court of public opinion”, the newspaper said.
Majumdar is said to have described the allegations as a “desperately difficult situation for us” as Bafta “cannot act as judge and jury”.
He also hosted a Zoom call with figures including Bafta chief executive Amanda Berry to discuss how to respond to the allegations, the newspaper said.
Bafta has said it will not comment on the latest claims in The Guardian.
However, the academy previously said in a letter to its membership it was not aware of the allegations relating to Clarke before announcing he would be given the award and it was in the following days they received anonymous emails about the allegations from second or third-hand sources.
The letter stated: “We want to reassure you that we have treated this matter with the utmost seriousness, care and proper process at every stage.
“The Bafta board of trustees has remained right across this matter, has met a number of times and are fully supportive of all actions taken.
“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.
“Bafta is an arts charity that is not in a position to properly investigate such matters.”
Bafta added it put in place an “independent, appropriately qualified person” alleged victims could speak to.
The letter concluded: “We very much regret that women felt unable to provide us with the kind of first-hand testimony that has now appeared in The Guardian.
“Had we been in receipt of this, we would never have presented the award to Noel Clarke.”