The BBC is investigating five complaints into the conduct of Russell Brand during the comedian’s time as a presenter for the broadcaster.
In September, the Sunday Times of London, The Times and U.K. broadcaster Channel 4’s documentary team “Dispatches” published the results of a year-long investigation where Brand was accused of “rape, sexual assaults and emotional abuse.” Brand preemptively denied the allegations in a YouTube video titled “So, This Is Happening,” where he said he “absolutely refutes” the “litany of astonishing, rather baroque, attacks.”
The BBC launched a review into Brand’s conduct for the time he was with the broadcaster and has now called for more information.
“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 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,” Peter Johnston, the BBC’s director of editorial complaints and reviews, said in a summary of the corporation’s investigation.
“We have established that some complaints and concerns were raised. It would not be appropriate for me to reach any conclusions until I am satisfied all lines of enquiry have been exhausted. In particular, we are concerned to ensure that anyone who has relevant information has the opportunity to speak to us. Therefore I am now sharing my terms of reference and updating on progress to date, I am also encouraging anyone who has information which may be relevant to the terms of reference of this review to come forward and contact us confidentially via email@example.com,” Johnston added.
Johnston said that the complaints relating to Brand’s BBC engagements include allegations of inappropriate conduct in the workplace (including urinating in bottles in a BBC studio); alleged inappropriate use of BBC cars; further allegations of conduct in and around the studio falling below the standards expected of someone engaged by the BBC; and a 2008 allegation in Los Angeles.
“I am treating all of these allegations seriously,” Johnston said. “Our investigations so far indicate a total of five complaints directly to the BBC: two individuals raised complaints and concerns during 2006-8 and raised these issues again after Russell Brand left the BBC. A separate complaint was made by another individual after Russell Brand had left the BBC in relation to the 2008 allegation in LA. Two further complainants have come forward since the review began. Some others have also come forward to share their observations and to raise general concerns about that period. 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.”
“I want to emphasise the importance of understanding how complaints were addressed at the time and whether the BBC’s actions were appropriate. 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,” Johnston added.
The BBC is also reviewing audience complaints and comments from 2006-2008.