'Very serious... deeply concerning': Downing Street speaks out on Russell Brand allegations

18 September 2023, 13:13 | Updated: 18 September 2023, 13:54

Several women have accused comedian Russell Brand of sexual assault
Several women have accused comedian Russell Brand of sexual assault. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Prime Minister's spokesman today said "there should never be any space for harassment, regardless of where it is found" after several women accused comedian Russell Brand of sexual assault.

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Rishi Sunak's official spokesman said: "These are very serious and concerning allegations.

"The Met Police has asked anyone who believes they have been a victim of a sexual assault to come forward to speak to officers.

"As the Foreign Secretary said over the weekend, people should feel able to raise concerns where they have them and know they will be treated seriously and treated with sensitivity.

"The Prime Minister has been clear there should never be any space for harassment, regardless of where it is found."

Downing Street has declined to urge broadcasters and streaming platforms such as YouTube and Netflix to take down Russell Brand's output.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said this afternoon: "It's a decision for all broadcasters to consider the right approach in light of these very serious allegations.

"They are deeply concerning, they need to be investigated. But I'm not going to dictate the actions of broadcasters or streaming services."

The comments come after Russell Brand's father broke his silence to defend his son.

Brand, 48, has also been accused of emotional abuse as four women spoke publicly on Saturday. He strenuously denies the claims against him, saying his relationships were always consensual.

His father Ron Brand, 80, said on Monday: "Is this seriously the most important thing happening in this world? Immigrants? Cost of living? 10s of thousands killed in Ukraine?...

"Who is really driving this vendetta?"

His remarks echo comments his son made before the claims were revealed denying the accusations and implying the mainstream media was trying to target him.

Brand and his father have an unorthodox relationship. The comedian said in his autobiography that his father took him to Thailand as a teenager and hired prostitutes for them.

Russell Brand with his father Ron
Russell Brand with his father Ron. Picture: Alamy

The allegations against Brand were made as part of a joint investigation undertaken by the Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches over a one-year period.

Since publication, The Times said it has been contacted by "several women" with claims about Brand, but said their allegations have not yet been investigated and "will now be rigorously checked".

It follows the news Channel 4 have pulled all content relating to the comedian from its streaming services, as an internal investigation is launched into his conduct.

The BBC also said it is "urgently looking into the issues raised" while Brand worked on BBC radio programmes between 2006 and 2008.

Russell Brand
Russell Brand. Picture: Alamy

Brand's accusers say their allegations took place over a seven-year period stretching from 2006 to 2013, when Brand was at the height of his fame.

Since their accusations emerged, the Metropolitan Police said: "We are aware of media reporting of a series of allegations of sexual assault.

"At this time, we have not received any reports in relation to this.

"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."

Read more: Russell Brand axed by women's charity after sexual assault allegations as Met calls for 'victims' to come forward

Read more: Police urge women to come forward after sexual assault allegations made against Russell Brand

Russell Brand
Russell Brand. Picture: Alamy

Now, his talent agency Tavistock Wood has cut ties while the Trevi Women & Children's Charity in the UK announced it had ended its association with Brand and his charity, the Stay Free Foundation.

"Russell became aware of our charity in 2022 after hearing about some of the incredible mothers we have helped to become drug-free over the years," the charity said on Instagram.

"He wanted to support our cause and raise money through his Stay Free Foundation."

It added: "We have ended our association with Russell Brand and the Stay Free Foundation."

In a statement, lawyers representing talent agency Tavistock Wood said: "Russell Brand categorically and vehemently denied the allegation made in 2020, but we now believe we were horribly misled by him."

They added that "TW has terminated all professional ties to Brand".

The comedian took to the stage nearly an hour late on Saturday night after getting "stuck in traffic on the M40", later telling crowds "there&squot;s some things I cannot talk about".
The comedian took to the stage nearly an hour late on Saturday night after getting "stuck in traffic on the M40", later telling crowds "there's some things I cannot talk about". Picture: LBC / Alamy

At the time the allegations are said to have taken place, Brand was a presenter for BBC Radio 2, Channel 4, and starring in Hollywood films.

Alongside one woman's initial serious sexual misconduct allegation, a second woman alleges that Brand assaulted her when he was 31 and she was 16 and attending school.

Read more: Russell Brand makes first appearance at sold-out show following serious sexual assault allegations

According to the Sunday Times, a third woman claims she was assaulted while working for Brand in Los Angeles, with the star threatening her with legal action.

A fourth individual alleges she was sexually assaulted by Brand - including accusations of physical and sexual abuse.

As the allegation were published and broadcast, Brand hosted his live show Bipolarisation at London's Wembley Park Theatre. He was about an hour late and blamed traffic on the M40 as he was cheered onto the stage.

"I've got a lot of things to talk to you about. There are obviously some things that I absolutely cannot talk about and I appreciate that you will understand," he said as the show started.

Brand asked fans not to film.

One woman in the crowd held a sign saying "We stand by you".

He was given a standing ovation for a few minutes at the end.

Read more: 'Britain's FBI' fumbles ten-month investigation into London's last Russian oligarch as mansion raid was 'unlawful'

Read more: Killer nurse Lucy Letby to appeal conviction after being jailed for life for murder of seven babies

The comedian took to the stage nearly an hour late on Saturday night after getting "stuck in traffic on the M40", later telling crowds "there&squot;s some things I cannot talk about".
The comedian took to the stage nearly an hour late on Saturday night after getting "stuck in traffic on the M40", later telling crowds "there's some things I cannot talk about". Picture: LBC / Alamy

Brand defended himself against the allegations before they were made public.

In the two minute and 45 second clip called "This is happening", the 48-year-old says: "Now, this isn't the usual type of video we make on this channel where we critique, attack and undermine the news in all its corruption because in this story, I am the news.

"I've received two extremely disturbing letters or a letter and an email. One from a mainstream media TV company, one from a newspaper listing a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks, as well as some pretty stupid stuff like my community festival should be stopped, that I shouldn't be able to attack mainstream media narratives on this channel.

Read more: 'Britain's FBI' fumbles ten-month investigation into London's last Russian oligarch as mansion raid was 'unlawful'

"But amidst this litany of astonishing rather baroque attacks are some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute.

"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'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. I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent, and I'm being transparent about it now as well.

"And to see that transparency metastasised into something criminal that I absolutely deny makes me question, is there another agenda at play?"

He went on: "I know that a year ago there was a spate of articles - Russell Brand's a conspiracy theorist, Russell Brand's right wing. I'm aware of news media making phone calls, sending letters to people I know for ages and ages.

"It's been clear to me, or at least it feels to me like there's a serious and concerted agenda to control these kind of spaces and these kind of voices. And I mean, my voice along with your voice.

Russell Brand has denied serious claims against him
Russell Brand has denied serious claims against him. Picture: Alamy

"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.

"Also, it's worth mentioning that there are witnesses whose evidence directly contradicts the narratives that these two mainstream media outlets are trying to construct, apparently, in what seems to me to be a coordinated attack.

"Now, I don't want to get into this any further because of the serious nature of the allegations, but I feel like I'm being attacked and plainly they're working very closely together.

Read more: Killer nurse Lucy Letby to appeal conviction after being jailed for life for murder of seven babies

"We are obviously going to look into this matter 'cause it's very, very serious. In the meantime, I want you to stay close, stay awake, but more important than any of that, if you can, please stay free."

Brand rose to prominence as a stand-up comedian during the early 2000s, making his Edinburgh Festival debut in 2000.

His career break came as the presenter of Big Brother spin-off show Big Brother's Big Mouth on E4.

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