Informal complaints about Russell Brand at Channel 4 ‘not properly escalated’, investigation finds

Concerns raised informally about Russell Brand’s behaviour while he worked on several Channel 4 programmes were “not properly escalated or adequately addressed”, an investigation has found.

Brand, 49, was accused of rape, sexual assaults and emotional abuse as part of a joint investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, The Times and Sunday Times last year.

He has strongly denied all accusations about behaviour which allegedly took place between 2006 and 2013.

After the allegations were reported, TV production company Banijay UK began an investigation.

Banijay UK bought Endemol, the company commissioned by Channel 4 to produce Big Brother spin-off shows EFourum, Big Brother’s Big Mouth, Kings Of Comedy and Big Brother’s Celebrity Hijack, which Brand worked on between 2004 and 2006 and in 2008.

‘I feel like a pimp for Russell’

In an article in The Times, a researcher said concerns about the way in which audiences were being recruited for Big Brother’s EFourum were reported to a production manager at Endemol.

They commented: “I said to the production manager, ‘I kind of feel like a pimp for Russell. I feel like I’m getting these girls in for him to sleep with. And it feels a bit grim.’ I can’t remember their reaction.”

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Findings have now been released by law firm Lewis Silkin LLP.

Its head of investigations, Karen Baxter, said: “No formal complaints were made about Brand during the programmes.

“There were, however, concerns regarding Brand’s behaviour which were raised informally with senior members of staff, particularly in relation to him asking runners to obtain phone numbers of audience members and female crew members feeling uncomfortable or intimidated by his behaviour while working in Bristol in 2004/2005.

“These concerns were not properly escalated or adequately addressed.”

Safeguards missing

In addition, Brand was employed at a time when Channel 4 and Endemol knew he was a “recovering drug addict with a reputation for being ‘edgy'” but “no particular safeguards were put in place to protect Brand, those who worked with him or those who otherwise came into contact with him”, including the audience, the investigation found.

His behaviour is alleged to have included having sexual relationships with audience members and some colleagues on the shows, and sometimes being naked in front of Endemol staff, with evidence suggesting it was “tolerated as ‘Russell being Russell”, the report said.

But the investigation found no evidence of any complaint being raised about these issues and the relationships were understood to be consensual.

Star power

Nevertheless, the law firm also found evidence indicating that Endemol staff felt “largely unable to raise concerns about Brand due to: his role as talent, a view that Brand’s behaviour was tolerated by senior people, a fear of not being listened to, and/or concern for their job security”.

Russell Brand in 2006
Russell Brand in 2006. Pic: PA

Patrick Holland, the chief executive of Banijay UK, apologised to “anyone who was impacted” and felt “unable to speak up or that their voice was not properly heard”.

In a statement, Mr Holland said: “Dispatches made deeply troubling allegations regarding Russell Brand’s behaviour during his time working for legacy company Endemol.

“I am grateful to Lewis Silkin for this thorough report and the learnings we can take from it.

“While Endemol did have support and escalation procedures in place during the period in question, they were clearly not understood and adhered to the degree we would expect today and were not as robust as our current UK and group-wide processes.

‘Extremely sorry’

“Industry protocols, duty of care and expectations of behaviour have vastly improved in recent years and continue to be reviewed and progressively updated on a regular basis.

“We are extremely sorry to anyone who was impacted by this behaviour and felt unable to speak up or that their voice was not properly heard.”

Channel 4 said in March it had found “no evidence” that managers knew about the accusations made by four women in a Dispatches documentary prior to it being broadcast in September.

In January, Brand told US broadcaster Tucker Carlson that the “appalling” allegations against him were “very, very hurtful”, and again denied all wrongdoing.

Sky News has contacted Brand for comment.

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