Russell Brand subject of two new complaints to BBC as latest investigation results published

Investigation so far indicates that ‘no disciplinary action was taken’ against comedian during his engagement with the BBC between 2006-2008

Roisin O'Connor
Tuesday 14 November 2023 13:15 GMT
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The BBC received at least five complaints about Russell Brand’s alleged misconduct while employed by the broadcaster, it has emerged, while a further two complaints have been made since the scandal erupted in September.

Brand, 48, worked for the BBC between 2006 to 2008, when he hosted a show on Radio 2 alongside Jonathan Ross until both presenters were suspended over the Andrew Sachs voicemail row.

Brand subsequently resigned, while Ross later returned to continue presenting his BBC TV and radio shows.

Former BBC NI director Peter Johnston is leading the review, which will look at various allegations made against Brand in a Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches investigation, including accusations of rape and sexual assault by four women.

The accusers include one who alleged she was sexually assaulted while in a relationship with Brand when she was 16 years old. Another of the women alleges that Brand raped her in Los Angeles in 2012. He has vehemently denied all of the allegations.

An update on the ongoing review into the comedian and actor’s time at the corporation was published on Tuesday 14 November.

“Following recent media reporting, we have undertaken significant work to identify what complaints or allegations were made to the BBC about Russell Brand’s conduct,” the corporation said.

“The passage of time means this is not a straightforward task – for example, the BBC did not maintain a centralised record of staff complaints regarding bullying and harassment (including sexual harassment) at the time.”

The review has so far established that “some complaints and concerns” were raised about Brand while he was employed by the BBC.

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These include ones related to allegations of inappropriate conduct, alleged inappropriate use of BBC cars, and a complaint related to the allegation that Brand exposed himself to a woman in 2008 before laughing about it on his radio show.

The alleged 2008 incident is said to have taken place in Los Angeles, where the woman was working in the same building as the BBC’s office. Minutes later, Brand’s co-presenter Matt Morgan apparently said the comedian “showed his willy to a lady”, while Brand laughed.

The woman was reportedly left “stunned and disgusted” by the encounter.

“In relation to the 2008 Los Angeles allegation, we have established that a complaint was formally reported to the BBC in 2019,” Johnston said.

“We have spoken to a number of individuals, including some who were based in Los Angeles at the time, but the work on this continues. Alongside understanding the extent of any knowledge of that incident within the BBC prior to 2019, I am also looking at what was broadcast at the time.”

The review is also investigating the allegation that a BBC car was used to pick up a 16-year-old girl from school and take her to Brand’s home.

Johnston said his team had heard accounts that Brand did have access to cars provided by third parties for the BBC, but the BBC’s records of car bookings from that time are “no longer available”.

“We have spoken to a number of individuals who either had knowledge of the BBC car arrangements at the time, or who drove vehicles for the BBC at or around the time,” he said. “No one we have spoken to so far recalls driving Russell Brand at the time. Our investigations are continuing.”

The Independent has contacted Brand's representatives for comment.

As well as the complaints, Johnston said that other individuals had come forward to raise “general concerns” about Brand’s time at the BBC.

“It is also clear from Audience feedback that there was a wider concern about the tone and content of some of Russell Brand’s shows,” he said.

Johnston said the BBC has reviewed documentation from various sources across the corporation, including HR records, legal records, audience logs and archive material.

“Although my work is in no way complete and therefore I cannot yet reach any conclusions, it would appear that no disciplinary action was taken against Russell Brand during his engagement with the BBC in 2006-8 prior to his departure from the BBC,” he said.

Johnston said he treating all of the allegations seriously and encouraged anyone with relevant information to contact his team confidentially via bbc.investigation.service@bbc.co.uk .

It is expected that findings from the full review will be published in the New Year.

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