Russell Brand has been accused of rape and sexual assault in alleged incidents at the height of his fame.
After starting out in stand-up, Brand gained notoriety as the host of Big Brother spin-off Big Brother’s Big Mouth between 2004 and 2007. During these years, he also presented various shows on MTV, E4 and BBC Radio, before landing roles in Hollywood movies like 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek.
In recent years, the comedian is better known for his political activism and YouTube channel – where he has over 6million subscribers. His videos have been criticised for peddling conspiracy theories on politics and the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the allegations against Russell Brand?
Russell Brand has been accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse across a seven-year period between 2006 and 2013.
One of the accusers alleged that Brand raped her in 2012 in his Los Angeles home. The woman, who was treated at a rape crisis centre on the same day, said she did not report the alleged rape to police at the time because she was scared due to his fame.
Another woman claimed Brand had assaulted her during an emotionally abusive three-month relationship, while he was 31 and she was aged 16. Speaking in the Dispatches documentary, the woman, who remained anonymous, claimed Brand once “forced his penis down her throat”, which caused her to punch him in the stomach to make him stop.
A third woman, who worked for Brand, said he sexually assaulted her in Los Angeles. She also claimed he threatened to take legal action if she told anyone else about the alleged incident.
A fourth woman alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Brand, and accused him of being physically and emotionally abusive towards her.
As part of the investigation, several others accused the comedian of allegedly abusive, predatory and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. These include claims from TV researchers and runners working at Channel 4, who alleged that Brand would get staff to approach young female audience members so he could meet them after filming.
A runner also claimed Brand flashed his penis and implied she could give him oral sex when she walked into his dressing room.
On Monday (September 18), London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed they had received a report referring to an alleged sexual assault in 2003.
The Met police have said they received a report on Sunday of an alleged sexual assault from 2003 following @channel4dispatches and @TheTimes investigation about Russell Brand.
They say they are in contact with the woman and will be providing her with support. #C4Dispatches
— Channel 4 Dispatches (@C4Dispatches) September 18, 2023
A spokesperson for the Met (via the BBC) said: “We are aware of reporting by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches about allegations of sexual offences.
“On Sunday, September 17, the Met received a report of 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.”
What has Russell Brand said in response?
On Friday (September 15) before the investigation was published, Brand denied what he termed “very serious criminal allegations” in a video on his YouTube channel. The comedian said the allegations were outlined in two “extremely disturbing letters” to him from a “mainstream media TV company” and a newspaper.
“Amidst this litany of astonishing, rather baroque attacks are some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute,” Brand said.
“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.”
This is happening pic.twitter.com/N8zIKLbJN2
— Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) September 15, 2023
“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 metastasized into something criminal, that I absolutely deny, makes me question – is there another agenda at play?”
He added: “I don’t mind them using my books and my stand-up to talk about my promiscuous consensual conduct in the past. What I seriously refute are these very, very serious criminal allegations.
Brand also claimed he knew of witnesses whose evidence “directly contradicts the narrative that these two mainstream media outlets are trying to construct”, in what he deemed as a “coordinated attack”.
“I feel like I’m being attacked, and clearly, they are working very closely together,” he added.
What have the BBC and Channel 4 said?
After the report was published, the BBC, Channel 4 and production company Banijay UK all announced they had launched internal investigations into the allegations.
In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: “The documentary and associated reports contained serious allegations, spanning a number of years.
“Russell Brand worked on BBC radio programmes between 2006 and 2008 and we are urgently looking into the issues raised.”
In a statement, Channel 4 said: “[We are] appalled to learn of these deeply troubling allegations including behaviour alleged to have taken place on our programmes made for Channel 4 between 2004 and 2007.
“We are determined to understand the full nature of what went on. We have carried out extensive document searches and have found no evidence to suggest the alleged incidents were brought to the attention of Channel 4. We will continue to review this in light of any further information we receive, including the accounts of those affected individuals.
“We have asked the production company who produced the programmes for Channel 4 to investigate these allegations and report their findings properly and satisfactorily to us. Channel 4 is also conducting its own internal investigation, and we would encourage anyone who is aware of such behaviour to contact us directly.”
Banijay UK, which bought Endemol (the production company behind Big Brother’s Big Mouth and others) in 2020, said they had launched an “urgent internal investigation”.
Channel 4 has also removed all episodes of shows featuring Brand from its streaming service.