A BAFTA-nominated director has appeared in a British court accused of having sexually assaulted an actress last October. The case was heard Tuesday, just a day before the British entertainment industry announced new guidelines on harassment and bullying, which were spearheaded by BAFTA and the British Film Institute.
According to a report in The Irish Sun, Northern Irish writer-director Stephen Fingleton appeared in court to defend himself against allegations that he became “sexually aggressive” with an actress during a meeting over a future project and dragged her across the floor of her apartment.
The 34-year-old director and the actress, whose name has not been released, are said to have met at the opening night event for last year’s BFI London Film Festival in Leicester Square (Oct. 4) and again at its closing night gala Oct. 15. The court heard from prosecution counsel Philip Lemoine that the pair exchanged phone numbers and discussed plans to meet up. Lemoine said Fingleton then met with the actress at her home Oct. 23 to discuss a film project. Four days later they met again, and Fingleton “started introducing sexual references to nudity and masturbation” shortly after arriving at her apartment. He is then alleged to have attacked the woman, said to be in her 20s.
Fingleton denies the allegations, saying that there was no sexual contact between him and the actress and that any sexual references were in the context of the film project being discussed to determine whether she would suit the role.
The filmmaker won the Irish Film and Televison Academy’s Rising Star award in 2016. His debut feature, “The Survivalist,” which featured on Hollywood’s The Black List of best unproduced scripts in 2013, was nominated for four Irish Film and Television Academy awards; won the Douglas Hickox Award at the British Independent Film Awards for best debut feature; and was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer. He had previously been named as a BAFTA “Breakthrough Brit” in 2015.
On Wednesday, BAFTA and the BFI led more than 20 British industry groups in announcing a new set of guiding principles and industry guidelines on how to tackle harassment and bullying. These include training schemes on dealing with harassment and a 24-hour helpline that will be introduced in April, as well as eight core principles that cover employer and employee responsibilities.