BBC and Channel 4 have promised to investigate claims made about Russell Brand, as pressure mounts on the public broadcasters to explain whether any red flags were raised about his alleged behaviour.
The Metropolitan Police has encouraged any potential victims to come forward after the star was accused of rape in a joint media investigation. Four women made separate allegations of sexual assault – claims which he vehemently denies.
On Sunday the BBC said that it is “urgently looking” at the issues raised, while Channel 4 said it is conducting its own internal inquiry. The alleged sexual assaults occurred between 2006 and 2013, when Mr Brand was working for BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4 programmes.
Senior MPs told The Independent that the broadcasters must set out exactly what executives knew of any alleged misconduct by Mr Brand, after he was accused of pursuing audience members for sex and undressing in the studio.
The Independent understands that MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee will discuss whether to haul TV and radio bosses up before the Commons in the days ahead when they meet on Tuesday.
It comes as:
- A production firm began inquiries into claims Mr Brand used staff as “pimps”
- Mr Brand was dropped by his agent Tavistock Wood
- Women’s violence charity Trevi also cut ties with him
- Police said they will speak to the Sunday Times and Dispatches about their probe
The exposé by the Sunday Times, The Times and Dispatches saw Mr Brand accused of pursuing audience members for sex while presenting EFourum and Big Brother’sBig Mouth on Channel 4. Staff who worked alongside him said they were made to feel like “pimps”.
Another employee at the Channel 4 show accused Mr Brand of flashing her in his dressing room. A researcher claimed concerns about his behaviour were reported to managers at Endemol, the company commissioned to produce the programmes, but were dismissed.
During his time at BBC Radio it was claimed that the star would undress in the studio and made sexual remarks about newsreader Andrea Simmons, telling listeners that he would like to “go under the desk” while she was reading the news.
Senior Tory MP Caroline Dinenage – chair of the culture, media and sport committee – said her group would be “closely monitoring” the broadcasters’ response to the allegations against Mr Brand.
Former justice secretary Robert Buckland said senior figures at both the BBC and Channel 4 had to urgently “look back” to see if any red flags were raised. “BBC and Channel 4 will have to ask themselves questions, and look at whether a culture of alleged behaviour was allowed to continue,” he told The Independent.
He added: “It has to be handled properly, because you can’t ignore it. The BBC cannot be seen to be indecisive on something as serious as this alleged behaviour.”
The SNP’s John Nicolson, another senior figure on the culture committee, told The Independent: “Channel 4 and BBC must investigate.”
Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury, also said the broadcasters should now fully investigate exactly what they knew about Mr Brand’s alleged misconduct. She told The Independent it was also a “good idea” for the culture committee to probe TV executives in the weeks ahead.
Cabinet minister James Cleverly told BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that he thought “sadly” there were wider questions to answer for the entertainment industry in the wake of the claims.
A statement from Banijay UK, which bought Endemol in 2020, said it was launching an “urgent internal investigation” and encouraged anybody “who feels that they were affected by Brand’s behaviour while working on these productions to contact us in confidence”.
On Sunday, a BBC spokesperson said the investigation had “contained serious allegations, spanning a number of years”, adding: “Russell Brand worked on BBC radio programmes between 2006 and 2008 and we are urgently looking into the issues raised.”
Channel 4 said it was also conducting its own “internal investigation”, adding: “We would encourage anyone who is aware of such behaviour to contact us directly.”
One woman alleged she was raped by the presenter against a wall at his Hollywood home, while another claimed she was in a three-month abusive relationship with Brand while she was 16 years old. Mr Brand has denied the claims and said his sexual relationships were “absolutely always consensual”.
Scotland Yard said it had spoken to TheSunday Times and Channel 4 about their investigation and would make “further approaches” to make sure any potential victims of crime are aware of how they can report criminal allegations.
“If anyone believes they have been the victim of a sexual assault, no matter how long ago it happened, we would encourage them to contact police,” the force added in a statement.
Amnesty International also urged women to come forward if they were affected by “anything that they experienced” when Mr Brand took part in the charity’s stand-up events in 2006 and 2012.
Tavistock Wood has dropped Mr Brand and said in a statement “we now believe we were horribly misled by him”. The Trevi women’s charity said it was “deeply saddened” by the allegations, and it would no longer be working alongside him and his Stay Free Foundation.
In a video released ahead of the reports being published, Mr Brand denied the allegations and described them as a “a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks” against him.
“These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, [and] when I was in the movies,” he said.
“As I’ve written about extensively in my books, I was very, very promiscuous. Now, during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual.”