Russell Brand: BBC and Channel 4 investigate allegations

8 months ago 119

Actor Russell Brand arrives for the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Sunset Tower on February 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California.Image source, Getty Images

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Russell Brand denies allegations of sexual assault made by four women

By Ian Youngs and Steven McIntosh

BBC News

The BBC, Channel 4 and a production firm have said they are investigating after allegations that Russell Brand sexually assaulted four women.

The comedian and actor has been accused of rape and sexual assaults between 2006 and 2013, which he denies.

The allegations form part of a report published by the Times, Sunday Times and Channel 4's Dispatches.

It also included claims about his behaviour towards women and his workplace conduct over the same period.

Brand worked as a radio presenter for the BBC between 2006 and 2008. The BBC said it was "urgently looking into the issues raised" by the allegations. Channel 4, where Brand also worked as a presenter, announced an internal investigation.

Although the alleged assaults are not said to have taken place on BBC or Channel 4 premises, the claims have raised questions for the broadcasters and the wider industry.

The Times quoted sources claiming a complaint was previously made to BBC management about an "alarming display of aggression and disrespect" from Brand.

During the period in question, Brand worked for two years as a presenter on 6 Music and Radio 2, hosted Big Brother's Big Mouth on Channel 4's sister station E4, and launched his Hollywood movie career.

On Sunday, the Times published a first-hand account from the woman who accused Brand of rape in Los Angeles in 2012.

'Very serious allegations'

Endemol, the company behind shows Brand appeared on in the mid-noughties such as Big Brother's Big Mouth, was bought by Banijay UK in 2020.

It said it was aware of the "very serious allegations" relating to the "alleged serious misconduct of Russell Brand while presenting shows produced by Endemol". It said it had launched an "urgent" internal investigation.

Channel 4 said it had "asked the production company who produced the programmes for Channel 4 to investigate these allegations and report their findings properly and satisfactorily to us".

The broadcaster added it was conducting its own internal investigation, and encouraged "anyone who is aware of such behaviour to contact us directly."

The statement added: "We will be writing to all our current suppliers reminding them of their responsibilities under our code of conduct."

The broadcaster also confirmed to the Telegraph it had "taken down all content featuring Russell Brand" while it looked into the matter. "This includes episodes of the Great British Bake Off that he appeared on."

The Metropolitan Police has said it was "aware of media reporting of a series of allegations of sexual assault" but had not received any reports from alleged victims.

It added: "We will be making further approaches to the Sunday Times and Channel 4 to ensure that any victims of crime who they have spoken with are aware of how they may report any criminal allegations to police."

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) told the BBC the force had not been notified of any incidents, reports or allegations regarding Brand or any of the accusers.

The spokeswoman also said she could not immediately confirm the reports in the Times of an LAPD officer being alerted by a rape treatment centre in 2012 about one of the accusers being treated there following an incident with Brand.

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Watch: Questions for the industry - James Cleverly on Brand

Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the entertainment industry had questions to answer over allegations against Brand.

Mr Cleverly told BBC One's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that those in power must "be better" at listening to the voices of the "relatively powerless".

He added: "I think there are some real challenges where you have these very, very acute differentials in power - whether that be in the entertainment industry, whether that be in politics, and we see this in the commercial world as well.

"I think we have to be particularly careful when we listen to the voices of the people who are relatively powerless because we, I think collectively, have missed opportunities to do the right thing and intervene much, much earlier, and we've got to be better at this."

Asked whether there were questions for the industry, Mr Cleverly replied: "Sadly, I think there are."

MPs are expected to push for answers from big institutions that were involved in Brand's career on the crucial questions of who knew what, and when.

Dame Caroline Dinenage, who chairs the House of Commons media committee, said: "We will be closely monitoring the responses of the media, especially our public service broadcasters, to these allegations, and looking at the questions that this, yet again, raises about the culture in the industry as a whole."

Image source, YouTube

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Brand posted a video on YouTube denying the allegations, adding his relationships were "always consensual"

Meanwhile, the Trevi Women & Children's Charity said it had cut ties with the 48-year-old comedian and had been "deeply saddened and upset" following the allegations.

Author Irvine Welsh, also speaking on Kuenssberg's programme, said the entertainment industry "has to get its house in order so people do feel comfortable and it's an environment where they can come forward and can be listened to".

But things have "changed for the better" in recent years since the start of the Me Too movement, he added.

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One woman, played by an actor, described the moment she says Brand tried to attack her at his house

Other claims made in the investigation relate to Brand's allegedly controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour.

Sunday Times media editor Rosamund Urwin, who worked on the story, told BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House there were "a lot of questions to be answered" by TV companies.

She said: "I think in the coming days we will see a lot more scrutiny, including in our paper, of who knew what when, and why on earth this man was continuing to go on Channel 4 shows as late as 2018/19 when there certainly were widespread rumours that would have at least needed investigating before you put him on your channel."

On Saturday, Brand went ahead with a scheduled comedy gig in north-west London, but did not address the allegations directly.

The previous evening, the star released a video in which he denied "serious criminal allegations" that were about to be made against him.

The actor and comedian said he was the subject of a "co-ordinated attack" involving "some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute".

"These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies, and as I've written about extensively in my books I was very, very promiscuous," he said.

"Now during that time of promiscuity the relationships I had were absolutely, always consensual."

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