TV comedy producer Charlie Hanson has been accused of being a sexual predator.
The Times reports that 11 woman have outlined allegations against Hanson in letters to BAFTA and Netflix. Their reports relate to incidents between 2008 and 2015, and include claims of sexual assault.
Hanson denies all the claims, and says he is "shocked and appalled by these historical and false allegations of improper conduct".
One of British comedy's most experienced TV producers, Hanson has worked on comedy shows for over four decades. His credits include hit 1990s shows such as Desmond's, The Real McCoy, Chef! and This Morning With Richard Not Judy. In the 2000s he helped bring formats such as Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, Snuff Box and The Armstrong & Miller Show to the screen.
In a 5,000-word email to Netflix and BAFTA, the women alleged: "Charlie Hanson is a predator who uses his reputation, connections and standing in order to groom far younger, impressionable and sometimes vulnerable women into trusting him. At times he will promise them a starry career under his wing, and then exploits that trust in creepy and illegal ways. He then tries to diminish the seriousness of what he's done by telling these young women - us - that it wasn't as bad as it seemed, that it was somehow blameless. He does his best to convince himself - and others - that this method of operating is fine. But we know it is not fine."
The letter adds: "Please tell us what you are doing to ensure Charlie Hanson will no longer be able to use his standing with both Netflix and BAFTA in order to launder his reputation and continue to hurt women."
The story in The Times gives examples of the accusations. Reporters Sophie Wilkinson and Lucy Bannerman write: "His accusers claim that the man they once thought of as an 'uncle' figure, when pitching scripts and chasing auditions in their early twenties, was 'grooming' them for sexual exploitation. One woman, who first met Hanson at an open mic night as a 22-year-old student, claimed her excitement turned to dread when she met the veteran producer for a drink at a Soho bar in 2008 to discuss a script he'd promised to pitch to the BBC and Channel 4.
"She claimed Hanson told her: 'You know I like you, don't you...'. She added: 'My heart just sank straight down to my toes. I felt so horrible and awkward because it clearly meant that my talent wasn't relevant to his interest in me.'
"The woman claims her next memory was Hanson having sex with her without her consent in a house she did not recognise. She said: 'I was so distraught I missed one of my final exams. In the longer term, I suffered from insomnia, nightmares and panic attacks.'"
Hanson told the newspaper he would fight the allegations "because I know that's not what I'm like".
The producer's solicitor said in a statement: "Our client is shocked and appalled by these historical and false allegations of improper conduct towards women. He maintains that he has never acted inappropriately on any production, or at all, and has never had any complaints made about his conduct over the course of many decades in the media industry. Our client has worked with and supported hundreds of individuals, including countless women, and has never before heard any such allegations. For the avoidance of doubt, our client denies any wrongdoing and will do whatever is required in order to restore any damage to his hard-earned professional and personal reputation. He is prepared to co-operate fully with any formal investigation."
The Times notes: "The Golden Globe-winning producer has been vocal in his support for the MeToo movement, criticising BAFTA - of which he was a member - for not doing more when it was first made aware of the allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor and director, Noel Clarke."
BAFTA has suspended Hanson's membership, and released the following statement: "BAFTA is an arts charity and does not have the power to investigate historical claims of abuse therefore we have referred the matter to the police. The behaviour that these accounts allege is abhorrent, in complete opposition to Bafta values and has no place in our industry."
In a statement published by Deadline, Ricky Gervais commented: "I am shocked and appalled to learn of the historical allegations made by a number of women against Charlie Hanson. The decision was made to immediately remove him from production and I am confident the matter is being handled thoroughly."
A spokesman for Hanson's agent, United Agents, said: "We were shocked to learn of the historic allegations. Whilst this matter is investigated we have suspended our representation of him."