Channel 4 boss says results of internal probe on Russell Brand ‘weeks’ away

The comedian was accused of rape, assault and emotional abuse following a joint investigation by The Sunday Times, The Times and Channel 4 Dispatches.

Naomi Clarke
Tuesday 28 November 2023 12:36 GMT
Russell Brand (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Russell Brand (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Channel 4 boss Alex Mahon has said its internal investigation into the allegations raised against its former presenter Russell Brand is “weeks” away from being completed.

In September, the 48-year-old comedian was accused of rape, assault and emotional abuse following a joint investigation by The Sunday Times, The Times and Channel 4 Dispatches.

Brand has strongly denied the allegations which span between 2006 and 2013, when he was at the height of his fame while working for Channel 4 on Big Brother spin-off shows EFourum and Big Brother’s Big Mouth as well as on BBC programmes and starring in Hollywood films.

Appearing in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday, the chief executive said she was “very happy” to take questions on the report after it is published.

Asked by the committee how the inhouse investigation is going, she said: “I am certainly very proud of that programme because we had investigative journalists working on it for three to four years.

“Although, of course it may historically implicate Channel 4 programmes.

“That’s why I’m particularly glad that we did that programme and called it to account.”

She added: “We are doing a full investigation in a separate team to the people who made the programme and any allegations about criminal activity goes straight to the police.”

Ms Mahon said they have commissioned a team who are going through around 60,000 documents which they have “historically on record” and they are now in the process of interviewing people who may have been involved at the time.

She said: “As it stands, we’re not quite finished.

“We’re probably in the process of weeks, not months.”

The chief executive added that she was “very happy” to take questions on the report after it is published.

The allegations against Brand also include claims of controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour and the force has said it had since received a “number of allegations of sexual offences in London” as well as elsewhere in the country since the investigation was shared.

Reflecting on the revelations within the investigation, Ms Mahon said: “I think if you’ve seen the documentary, what we see on air not that long ago is deeply shocking and troubling when one sees it again and we’re talking 10-15 years ago, and I think all of us have to consider what impact that has on programmes going forward.”

She explained that the broadcaster has its own code of conduct for internal staff as well as one for suppliers and producers which she said they “repeatedly share and refresh and update”.

In relation to monitoring cases, she said they have a whistleblowing line which is provided to everyone who works on Channel 4 productions and that they “investigate everything” that comes through it.

She added: “Everything that comes in through whistleblowing or that safe calling line I have to know about within 24 hours so each individual report comes to me unless it’s something to do with me, in which case it goes independently to the chairman and I’m unaware and then we investigate each of those.

“We report back on each of those to the audit committee as well so we’re following those all up.”

The chief executive said they do tend to see a spike with whistleblowing reports after cases like Brand are brought to light, which she said she feel is “very important because it shows that the message of ‘please tell us about things’ gets through.”

Earlier this month, The Times reported that a man, understood to be Brand, was interviewed under caution by the Metropolitan Police over allegations of sexual offences.

The BBC and Banijay UK, which bought Endemol, the company commissioned by Channel 4 to produce the Big Brother spin-off shows the presenter hosted, are also investigating Brand’s behaviour while he was working on its programmes.

Elsewhere in the committee meeting, Ms Mahon said speculation that she is leaving the broadcaster is untrue.

She added: “I think that one has to accept that it is not abnormal for there to be that kind of conversation around executives, particularly in broadcasting. I don’t think it’s anything outside of the ordinary course.”

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