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Both The Times and the Mail Online have been forced to issue apologies to both the British Academy and its chair Krishnendu Majumdar following allegations made in articles after the scandal that erupted around Noel Clarke earlier this year
In a story published in early May, just days after a major exposé broke in which 20 women accused Clarke of sexual misconduct and bullying, The Times falsely claimed that Majumdar had “close links” with the the Doctor Who star.
The Clarke scandal had thrown BAFTA into the spotlight, with the Academy having given Clarke a special honor just weeks earlier at the BAFTA film awards despite knowing about certain accusations (BAFTA says it didn’t have the necessary evidence to take any action). The article also implied that the decision to present Clarke with this honor was influenced by the fact that both Majumdar and Clarke are men of color.
The Mail Online picked up this story, with a focus on the “close links” claim.
Following legal complaints by BAFTA asserting that there were no “close links” (outside of BAFTA, Majumdar and Clarke have never met or worked together) and against the racist element in The Times story, both publications have now apologized, asserting that they were “incorrect.” The Times’ apology is also in the hard copy of the newspaper, alongside the tablet editions, and the publication has agreed to pay damages and costs. BAFTA says that the Mail Online is expected to follow suit.
“It is important to BAFTA that these defamatory and untrue articles have been removed and apologies published as they were very seriously damaging, undermining the very good work BAFTA has done as an arts charity on diversity and inclusion, as well as the proper manner in which it conducted itself in respect of the Clarke matter,” BAFTA said in a statement.
In a letter sent to BAFTA members on Friday, Majumdar said that the claims in both The Times and Mail Online were “categorically untrue,” adding that it had been “extremely distressing to me personally and damaging to BAFTA.”
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