Russell Brand: BBC investigates mounting allegations against comedian

The 48-year-old celebrity has been accused of sexual assault and abusive behaviour against at least four women

Russell Brand leaves the Troubadour Wembley Park theatre in north-west London after performing a comedy set on Saturday. PA
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The BBC has opened an investigation into Russell Brand, a presenter and comedian facing serious allegations about his treatment of women.

The broadcaster said it would “urgently looking into the issues raised” while Brand worked on BBC radio programmes between 2006 and 2008 as fresh claims were made against him.

The Metropolitan Police has received a report of an alleged sexual assault following news reports about Brand.

The 48-year-old comedian and actor has been accused of rape, assault and emotional abuse between 2006 and 2013, when he was at the height of his fame working for the BBC, Channel 4 and starring in Hollywood films.

The Met said it has now received an allegation of sexual assault in London in 2003.

In a short statement, the force said: “On Sunday, September 17, the Met received a report of a sexual assault which was alleged to have taken place in Soho in central London in 2003.

“Officers are in contact with the woman and will be providing her with support.

“We first spoke with The Sunday Times on Saturday September 16 and have since made further approaches to The Sunday Times and Channel 4 to ensure that anyone who believes they have been the victim of a sexual offence is aware of how to report this to the police.”

Brand denies all the allegations, made after a joint investigation between The Sunday Times and Channel 4's Dispatches documentary programme, saying all of his relationships have been “consensual”.

But he is now facing further claims after “several” more women came forwards following the reports.

The Times said on Monday that the new allegations have not yet been investigated, and will now “be rigorously checked”.

A performance of Brand’s tour due to go ahead on Tuesday at the Theatre Royal Windsor in Berkshire was postponed, with the show’s promoters saying in a statement shared by the theatre: “We are postponing these few remaining addiction charity fundraiser shows, we don’t like doing it – but we know you’ll understand.”

Performances had been scheduled for two more venues this month, including The Pavilions in Plymouth on Friday, and The Civic At The Halls in Wolverhampton next Thursday.

The live shows were described as: “Rules and rule breaking! Democracy and freedom! We reach conclusions from mass confusion by polling the live audience.”

The original allegations made against Brand include one woman who claims she was sexually assaulted during a three-month relationship with him when she was 16 and still at school.

The woman described his behaviour towards her as “grooming” as he would allegedly provide her with scripts on how to deceive her parents into allowing her to visit him.

The BBC is facing questions after it was alleged that he used the corporation's car service to pick up the 16-year-old from school so she could visit his him at his home, according to The Times.

Steven Barnett, professor of Communications at Westminster School of Media and Communication told The National any organisation which has worked with Brand faces questions.

He said the allegation of the use of a car paid for by the BBC is the most problematic for the broadcaster, as, if confirmed, it could be seen to have enabled his behaviour.

“I think that’s the one issue on which the BBC will want to open an investigation and find an answer. There might be an innocent explanation for it. But I am sure the BBC will investigate his record and find out exactly what happened,” said Prof Barnett.

“That in itself looks pretty bad. But I would hope the other thing they are looking at is the rules in place at the time.” He said the question for everyone who worked with Brand is whether their rules been updated and whether they are now sufficiently robust.

Channel 4 announced it was conducting “its own internal investigation” following the allegations and the broadcaster has removed content featuring Brand from their streaming service while they look into the claims.

“We will be writing to all our current suppliers reminding them of their responsibilities under our code of conduct, as we are committed to ensuring our industry has safe, inclusive and professional working environments,” Channel 4 said.

Downing Street declined to urge broadcasters and streaming platforms such as YouTube and Netflix to take down Russell Brand’s output.

But Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer is expected to be speak to broadcasters about their investigations into Mr Brand at the next opportunity to seek assurance that their investigations will be conducted thoroughly and transparently.

On Monday, the chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee called for a criminal probe to be opened.

“These allegations are incredibly shocking and criminal,” Caroline Nokes told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

“And I would very much hope that complaints will be made both to the Metropolitan Police and indeed in the US, because this merits and needs a criminal investigation, because for too long we have seen men – and the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes are almost invariably men – not being held to account for their behaviours and their actions.”

Katy Perry and Russell Brand were briefly married before they split in December 2011. AFP

Asked whether it is a matter for her committee, the senior Tory MP said: “First and foremost I think it's a matter for the police.”

The Metropolitan Police has said it will speak to The Sunday Times and Channel 4 to ensure “any victims of crime who they have spoken with are aware of how they may report any criminal allegations to police”.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department told the PA news agency that they do not have an open investigation into Brand, and another confirmed there had been no arrests following two allegations concerning claims that are said to have happened in the US.

As Dispatches aired on Saturday evening, Brand performed a sold-out comedy gig at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre in north-west London as part of his Russell Brand Bipolarisation tour.

While not directly addressing the allegations, audience members told the PA news agency that Brand said he hoped they could “appreciate” there were things he could not talk about during the set.

In a video posted online ahead of the publication of the claims, Brand said he was facing a “litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks”.

“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 have 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. I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent, and I am being transparent about it now as well.

“To see that transparency metastasised into something criminal, that I absolutely deny, makes me question, is there another agenda at play?”

Updated: September 19, 2023, 5:03 AM