SARAH VINE: He may be a creep but only a jury can convict Noel Clarke

SARAH VINE: He may be a creep but only a jury can convict Noel Clarke

On the face of it, the actor Noel Clarke certainly seems like an obnoxious creep. More than 20 women, many former colleagues, have come forward to accuse him of a variety of sexual improprieties, ranging in seriousness from a pat on the bottom to recording and sharing explicit images.

We all know the kind. Lord knows I’ve come cross a few in my time. Good-looking, charismatic, confident, successful men who think they’re God’s gift to women. The idea that anyone might find their advances unwelcome rarely, if ever, crosses their mind.

The more successful they become, the more invincible they feel. They start to believe that the normal rules don’t apply to them. It’s not just a problem in the movie industry – it exists in all walks of life, from politics to business and beyond.

Noel Clarke receives the Outstanding Contribution to Cinema award 74th British Academy Film Awards

Because so far, the only court this man has been convicted in is the one of public opinion. The only trial he has been subjected to is one by social media

It’s not exclusive to the male sex either. I’ve seen plenty of predatory female behaviour towards younger or more junior colleagues. Often, it’s not so much about sex, as power.

That said, how do we know that Clarke really is this person? How do we know he is actually guilty of the charges against him? That these accusations are not exaggerated or embellished or motivated by jealousy or resentment?

The answer is, we don’t. Because so far, the only court this man has been convicted in is the one of public opinion. The only trial he has been subjected to is one by social media. And the only testimony –apart from a short statement from his lawyers denying the allegations – we have heard is that of those who accuse him.

The 45-year-old is just the latest in a long line of individuals – including the late TV presenter Caroline Flack, who tragically took her own life because of the pressures of her situation – who have been obliterated by serious accusations of misconduct before they’ve been afforded the basic human right of having their day in a court of law.

I have absolutely no idea whether Clarke is guilty or not, since so far the only evidence I’ve read has been one-sided.

Compelling as that evidence may be, it is not proof.

And ruining a man’s life and career on that basis is not justice either. A person should be innocent until proven guilty, and that is that.

Any responsible organisation should know that. Or so one would hope. And yet increasingly this is not the case.

ITV – which, let’s not forget, behaved so spinelessly towards Piers Morgan after he voiced his opinion on the Duchess of Sussex’s Oprah interview – responded to the accusations by pulling the final episode of the drama Viewpoint, in which Clarke stars, saying it had ‘a zero tolerance policy to bullying, harassment and victimisation’.

Most devastatingly of all, Bafta has suspended his award for outstanding British contribution to cinema, which he received just a few weeks ago

Meanwhile, in a statement Sky said it had ‘halted’ its work with Clarke, who was due to front a fourth series of crime drama Bulletproof.

Most devastatingly of all, Bafta has suspended his award for outstanding British contribution to cinema, which he received just a few weeks ago.

For Clarke, who grew up on a tough council estate in West London, that must feel like an especially bitter blow. After all, where he comes from there are no handy family connections to smooth your passage through life, no old school ties to open doors.

None of which, of course, is any justification for the sort of behaviour he stands accused of.

But just because he comes across as a cocky chancer – and has carved out a career playing such roles – does that mean he actually is?

Let’s find out the old-fashioned way, shall we?

In a court of law, in front of judge and jury, and with due process in place.

Anything else is just speculation.

Britney’s dad shows his love – for money

Admittedly Britney, can seem a little ditzy at times, but how could a woman with dementia have released four albums and undertaken four global tours during the 13 years she’s been under his control?

I have been following the saga of Britney Spears’s conservatorship – under the terms of which her father has total control over the 39-year-old singer’s finances and life – with increasing concern. 

Now it has emerged that one of the grounds for his stranglehold on his daughter’s fortune is that she has dementia. 

Really? Admittedly Britney, can seem a little ditzy at times, but how could a woman with dementia have released four albums and undertaken four global tours during the 13 years she’s been under his control? 

And if she does have this terrible illness, what kind of father would make his daughter carry on working? Unless, of course, he just saw her as a cash cow with which to line his pockets?

When I saw pictures of Sir Keir Starmer examining DIY supplies in John Lewis, at first I thought it was some deep fake internet prank. But no, it was just a desperate man clutching at wallpaper.

How lovely Mr Shah could save the NHS

Last week, I joined the growing number of British taxpayers who no longer have meaningful access to a GP.

My surgery sent me a text message telling me they have stopped doing online consultations, and when I called instead I was subjected to a long message asking me to use the website to ‘free up the phones for people with no online access’, before being put on hold for so long that I gave up.

It would be easier getting an audience with the Pope. So I did the next best thing, and asked the advice of Mr Shah, my lovely pharmacist. If only people like him were allowed to dispense a range of prescription medicines for simple ailments then patients wouldn’t be stuck waiting weeks for an appointment, and people like Mr Shah – who has more than 40 years’ experience – could save everyone a lot of time and money.

● What is it about celebrities that they seem to think the world is perpetually fascinated by their sex lives? Ulrika Jonsson says that, at 53, she is enjoying a ‘sexual awakening’ and that after several failed relationships she is ‘single and ready to mingle’. I’m happy for her. But isn’t the joy of being our age that you’ve finally learnt that some things are best kept private? 

● Omid Scobie, the Duchess of Sussex’s representative on Earth, has admitted that Meghan ‘may have been wrong’ to suggest Royal protocol dictated that her son should have been a prince. Fair enough – we all make mistakes, and the rules on Royal succession are pretty complicated. What I can’t forgive is her sly attempt to use it as a way of implying some sort of Royal vendetta against her and her son. Surely the time has come for Meghan to make an apology to the Queen for all the confusion and heartache she has caused? 

Take Willow Smith, the 21-year-old daughter of actor Will Smith, who solemnly declared she is ‘polyamorous’. Oh come on, dear. Doesn’t that just mean you like to have a bit of fun?

● Boris Johnson is launching a taskforce to tackle the scourge of dognapping. About time. My dogs spend far too much time napping on the sofa for their own good. Or mine, for that matter. 

● Why is everyone shouting at the PM for having his phone number online? I thought people wanted their politicians to be more in touch. As for the security risk, do we really think that if Putin wanted Boris’s number, he’d be put off by the BT lady telling him that he’s ex-directory? Last year, when the A-level fiasco was happening, the daughter of a friend of mine decided to phone Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to tell him how she felt about having her results ruined by an algorithm. It took no time at all to find his number on Google, whereupon she left him a tearful voicemail message. Politicians have no privacy, I’m afraid. It comes with the territory. 

● Whenever people want to justify their actions these days, they reach for a clever-sounding word. Take Willow Smith, the 21-year-old daughter of actor Will Smith, who solemnly declared she is ‘polyamorous’. Oh come on, dear. Doesn’t that just mean you like to have a bit of fun? 

● I don’t know about you but I haven’t yet nailed the appropriate attire for alfresco socialising in this weather. I’m either too hot, too cold or too wet – and invariably wearing the wrong shoes. The only person who seems to be able to get it right is the Duchess of Cambridge, as she demonstrated while gambolling about on a Norfolk beach in a short film to celebrate her and Prince William’s 10th anniversary. I yield to no one and so on – but sometimes a person can be too perfect. 

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