British-Indian actress suing Bafta for £200,000 has case thrown out

British-Indian actress suing Bafta for £200,000 saying she suffered racial slurs on diversity scheme has her High Court claim struck out

A British-Indian actress’ £200,000 harassment and discrimination claim against Bafta has been thrown out by a judge after it was filed at the wrong court.

India Eva Rae alleged in her now halted High Court challenge that she was ‘mistreated’ and ‘victimised’ by the arts charity when taking part in its Elevate programme that aims to promote diversity in the film and television industry. 

According to court documents, Ms Rae, who has learning disabilities and identifies as a British-Asian female of Indian origin, claimed her needs ‘were not taken into account’ by Bafta which resulted in her ‘missing out on opportunities in the programme’.

She claimed that a casting director at a 2020 Elevate event told her she was ‘exotic’ and suggested Ms Rae needed ‘accent and speech lessons’ as they ‘(could not) understand anything that comes out of your mouth, darling’.

Ms Rae, who starred in Channel 4’s series On The Edge in 2019, alleged that Bafta did not protect her ‘from any untoward remarks about her race or ethnicity’ after she was selected for the Elevate programme that year.

Pictured: India Eva Rae outside of London’s High Court before a hearing of her claim against Bafta

India Eva Rae, who appeared as Candice in the Channel 4 series On The Edge, was among 21 young actors selected for the Bafta Elevate scheme in 2019

Ms Rae was selected for the programme following her appearance in Adulting (above), one of three short films in the On the Edge anthology

Ms Rae previously claimed she was ‘excluded’ from Elevate events, alleging that Bafta tried ‘to turn the other members against her and to discredit her for making reasonable requests for access’ for sessions that featured filmmaker Shane Meadows and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Bafta said Ms Rae had ‘no reasonable grounds for bringing’ her case, which had ‘no real prospects of success’ and had been brought too late.

At a short hearing in London on Wednesday, Judge Murray Shanks said he had ‘no choice’ but to ‘strike out’ Ms Rae’s claim as it should have been pursued in the county court.

In a court document, Bafta said an independent investigation carried out by a barrister concluded that ‘none of (Ms Rae’s) allegations were made out’.

The investigation, launched after Ms Rae gave interviews to the media about her complaints in March 2021, found the casting director ‘had not made racist comments’ and that Ms Rae ‘was not discriminated against, bullied or silenced’ during the Elevate programme.

Simon Cheetham KC also concluded Bafta senior staff ‘did not cover up any misconduct’ and that Ms Rae was not ‘gaslighted’, the court was told.

Ms Rae previously said in a court document that she did not contribute to the investigation because her requests for an extension of time to participate due to medical treatment were rejected.

After speaking to the media in 2021, she claimed Bafta had sent out ‘communications’ to people in the industry that were ‘negatively impacting’ on her ‘career prospects’.

Monique Bouffe, representing Ms Rae, told Wednesday’s hearing that there was ‘significant public interest’ in her case, which involved an organisation at the ‘pinnacle’ of the arts industry which had faced ‘criticism in recent years for equality and diversity issues’.

She said Ms Rae was ‘one of several people who faced discrimination’ on the Elevate programme, adding that the implications of her case ‘are going to be quite significant’ for television and media in the UK.

Ms Bouffe apologised for the claim being filed at the wrong court, and said the ‘proportionate response’ would be for it to be transferred to the county court.

Celia Rooney, for Bafta, said Ms Rae was ‘asking for an indulgence that doesn’t exist here’, adding: ‘We do say that ultimately this is a claim that should have been brought in the county court, indeed it’s the only place that it could.

‘The proper approach is to strike out’.

Judges Shanks said the High Court did not have jurisdiction to deal with Ms Rae’s type of claim, which was brought under the Equality Act 2010.

He said Ms Rae could not personally have known that the High Court was the wrong place to launch her case, but her solicitors should have been aware.

The judge, who ordered the actress to pay £8,000 of Bafta’s legal costs, said the outcome was ‘very unfortunate’ for her and that he was ‘very sorry’ she had not had a hearing of the merits of her case.

He said the issue was something that should have been ‘sorted’ by both sides’ lawyers ‘from the very outset’ of Ms Rae filing details of her case in March 2023.

Judge Shanks added that she ‘might be able to revive’ her case at the county court.

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