Jamie Dornan, star of 50 Shades of Grey, caused a bit of a stir on 1st April when he stated in an interview that he had got into his role as a serial killer in tv show The Fall by stalking someone.
Has he just admitted a crime? Should he be consulting a lawyer?
A bit more detail
This comes from an interview with the LA Times. The relevant part is as follows –
“On the tube … — Dornan began with his anecdote before stopping himself.
“Can we get arrested for this? Hold on … this is a really bad reveal: I, like, followed a woman off the train one day to see what it felt like to pursue someone like that.”
Dornan said he kept his distance from his target, and once she reached her stop, lurked behind her for a couple of blocks“.
The problem here is that harassment requires a ‘course of conduct’, in other words conduct on more than one occasion. For that reason, it is clear that what Mr Dornan did does not constitute harassment (as he did it only once).
There is a separate offence of ‘stalking’ that was introduced in s111 Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. This requires a course of harassment where ‘the acts or omissions are associated with stalking’.
Again, this does not come in to that definition. In any event, Season 1 of The Fall was shown in May 2013 so was presumably made a fair bit in advance of this. The new offence of stalking came in to force on 25th November 2012, so it is likely that Mr Dornan’s actions were before that.
Further, harassment under s2 and stalking are both ‘summary only’ offences. This means that they have to be prosecuted within 6 months of them happening, so this would be time barred in any event.
This is not to say that what Mr Dornan did was morally correct – it is not clear if the woman that he followed was aware that she was being followed (he states that he was a long way behind, and this is London – in all likelihood, plenty of people would have got out of the tube with him and would have been walking), but even if not, it is still taking method acting a bit to far.
However, it is pretty clear that what he did was not stalking and was not illegal.
So, whilst stalking (and harassment more generally) is definitely illegal, what Mr Dornan did is not.
A man more cynical than I would suggest that this had more to do with generating headlines for his new show than anything else.
But the short answer to the question is “no”.