'Sachsgate' row erupted because of bias against the BBC, says comedian Russell Brand

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's 'Desert Island Discs', Mr Brand described the row as a 'dishonest scandal'

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The Independent Online

Comic Russell Brand has said the so-called 'Sachsgate' scandal erupted because of bias against the BBC.

Mr Brand was forced to quit his BBC Radio 2 show in 2008 after he and fellow presenter Jonathan Ross prompted complaints by leaving lewd answerphone messages on the telephone of veteran Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's 'Desert Island Discs', Mr Brand described the row as a 'dishonest scandal' that he claims was exploited by elements of the media in an attempt to "attack and diminish the BBC".

"There was obviously a pre-existing agenda in privately-owned media to destabilise, attack and diminish the BBC," the actor and comedian said.

The scandal, which resulted in resignation of the then controller of Radio 2, revolved around lewd comments left on Andrew Sachs' answerphone referring to his granddaughter Georgina Baillie,  a burlesque dancer and Mr Brand's former girlfriend.

Speaking about the row Mr Brand, 38, told presenter Kirsty Young: "After the show there were two complaints. After it was in the Daily Mail there were subsequently 42,000 complaints."

"I'm sure their offence was genuine - it was wrong, and I apologise for that - but how the information is presented is important."

He continued: "The thing I want to address here, the thing that 42,000 people were offended by is offensive. It is offensive if someone calls up an answerphone, does some swearing, hangs up.

"But if, incrementally, that act is led to by a series of innuendos and in-jokes, then it is a different thing. It is still a thing that is wrong, but it's not the thing that they are offended by."

During the interview Mr Brand also revealed that he had become weary of being a celebrity: "I really, really embraced it at the beginning - I was excited by the accoutrements of fame, but now I've progressed, I feel," he said.