Russell Brand investigator says BBC tried to avoid revealing details

Investigator on Russell Brand Dispatches probe says BBC tried to avoid revealing details of complaints about comic using FoI laws – amid questions over how bosses allowed Radio 2 to air moment he joked about exposing himself to a woman

  • Dispatches investigation head says BBC used FOI law to avoid answering them

The BBC was this morning accused of trying to avoid revealing details of complaints made about Russell Brand.

An investigator behind the scandal currently engulfing the star said the corporation had used ‘Freedom of Information Act law exemption’ to swerve answering.

It comes after it was claimed BBC management were made aware in 2019 of claims Brand had exposed himself to a woman in an LA office where he was recording a radio show.

Dispatches’ investigations editor Alistair Jackson told Sky News this morning: ‘One of the things that is important since the film has been broadcast, only yesterday we see this allegation being made, an allegation in the BBC’s LA Studios or in the surroundings of that.

‘According to that report the BBC were informed about that in 2019.

‘I think it’s important to remember we offered the BBC to look and see if there had been any complaints.

‘They used an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act laws to not be clear about that in their responses to the programme.

Russell Brand at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles in September 2008. A woman has accused him of exposing himself to her three months earlier before a radio recording

‘They haven’t been clear about that now. Now we learn BBC management were informed about it in 2019.

‘There’s a building case for the BBC and other organisations to tell us what they knew and when.’

The BBC did not respond to a request for comment on Mr Jackson’s remarks. 

Yesterday a woman told how Brand allegedly exposed himself to her in an office where he was recording a radio show – before appearing to joke about the encounter on air.

The woman, named as ‘Olivia’ to protect her identity, claims she worked in a building that also hosted the BBC’s Los Angeles office in 2008, where the comedian is said to have pre-recorded an edition of his BBC Radio 2 programme on June 16 that year.

She alleged that she answered the door to Brand and his team before going to the bathroom to get some medication, and claims that Brand followed her into the room before making lewd remarks and exposing himself.

The programme, which went out five days later, featured a clip of Brand and co-host Matt Morgan appearing to joke about the encounter, with Morgan noting: ‘It’s been 25 minutes since he showed his willy to a lady.’

The BBC has since launched an investigation into the claims. In a statement, a spokesperson said: ‘We’re very sorry to hear of these allegations and we will look into them.

‘We are conducting a review to look at allegations of this nature and if the woman who has shared her story is willing to speak to us, we would be very keen to hear from her and anyone else who may have information.

Russell Brand seen at BBC Radio 2 on December 5, 2014 in London. He denies all allegations

Other audio released by Channel 4 shows Brand joking with a teenager about hosting a sex party to commemorate her 16th birthday

Brand ultimately left the BBC following ‘Sachsgate’, in which he and Jonathan Ross left a vulgar voicemail on the answering machine of Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs

‘A key part of the review is to understand what complaints were made at the time, if there was knowledge of Russell Brand’s conduct while he worked on BBC radio, and what was done as a result.

‘We will, of course, speak to the bureau team and anyone who was working there in 2008 as part of this.

‘Further, the director-general has been very clear that some broadcasts from that period were, and are, inexcusable and totally unacceptable, and would never be aired today.’

Olivia told BBC News that, after turning around from searching a medicine cabinet, Brand was stood in front of her with his groin in her face. She claimed that he remarked: ‘I think you’re a bit of alright…I’m going to f*** you.’

She added that, as she attempted to rebuff him, Brand pulled out his penis and ‘pretty much served it to me as you would someone serving food.’

The lewd clip also featured Brand joking that he was ‘sort of’ attracted to women such as actress Lucy Lawless because she was ‘smart as a whip, bright as a button…in control of herself.’

As Morgan adds, ‘not the ones you like,’ Brand adds: ‘Oh no, that won’t do. I won’t be able to drag her off into a cubicle, and show her my pubicles.’

Russell Brand jokes on air about ‘exposing himself to a woman 25 minutes ago’ – the full remarks

Brand: Also, Lucy Lawless, the Xena: Warrior Princess actress and also star of Bedtime Stories, the film I’m doing, is coming down. 

She’ll surprise you, Matt, because you’d think the actress playing Xena: Warrior Princess, you’d think: ‘Oh, she’ll be a nice bit of crumpet, dolly bird, you know, bit daft, nothing between her ears, lovely knockers’…she’s rough as horse muck. (laughs)

No, she’s smart as a whip, she’s bright as a button.

Morgan: Have you got a crush on her? 

Brand: Sort of but like, you know where it’s a woman where you respect them or something?

Morgan: Why, because she’s a bit in control of herself?

Brand: In control of herself…

Morgan: Not the ones you like!

Brand: Oh no, this won’t do. I won’t be able to drag her off into a cubicle and show her my pubicles, that would never do. 

Morgan: How long ago did you do that last?

Brand: It’s been a long while, Matt, since old Russy Brand…

Morgan: (interjecting) It’s been 25 minutes since he showed his willy to a lady.

Brand: (laughing) Very easy to judge! Very easy to judge!

Morgan: The receptionist…

Brand: (laughing) Look…

Morgan: Receive this!

Brand: How am I supposed to ring that little bell? With my finger?

Morgan: He got told off for ringing a bell. Minutes later he was showing his willy. As a form of excuse for his behaviour – ‘See, look, this is what I’m hung with!’ 

Morgan asks: ‘How long ago did you do that last?’

Brand replies: ‘It’s been a long while Matt, since old Russy Brand…’

Morgan then interjects: ‘It’s been 25 minutes since he showed his willy to a lady.’

The pair then joke about how Brand exposed himself to a ‘receptionist’ – a job that Olivia did not do at the time.

Responding to Olivia’s claims, Morgan said today: ‘I was not aware until now of the nature of this encounter. I have expressed my regret now looking back at the impact of the show, and this is a further example. 

‘The recent coverage has been very distressing to read and I reiterate my absolute condemnation of any form of mistreatment of women.’

Olivia had previously been told by a BBC employee that Brand had joked about the alleged incident in the studio afterwards. 

But she admitted that she did not report the incident, fearing the impact that such a report could have on her and her family.

But it was only more recently that she became aware that the remarks had made it to broadcast – and she is furious that BBC editorial standards allowed it on air.

She continued: ‘Had I known audio existed, I probably would have done something as the incident would have been corroborated.

‘What allowed that output go out like that? What made the BBC think that was appropriate to go out like that? I just don’t understand why they didn’t investigate this much sooner.

‘And I suspect there’s far worse in all those episodes that I can’t even stomach to listen to.’

The BBC is already conducting a review into Brand’s time with the corporation, during which time he presented shows on BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 2. 

It has now asked Olivia to get in touch to relay more information about her allegations.

A spokesperson said: ‘We would be very keen to hear from her and anyone else who may have information.

‘Further, the Director General has been very clear that some broadcasts from that period were, and are, inexcusable and totally unacceptable, and would never be aired today.’

Brand’s representatives were contacted for comment.

The news came after Channel 4 released audio of Russell Brand joking about a 16-year-old holding a sex party on air on BBC Radio 2 in 2007.

The newly released clips featured a 15-year-old listener ring in to Brand to ask him what she should do for her 16th birthday.

Brand responds: ’16th party, you’ve had 15 up to now, do you have one every year? But you are 16 years of age?’

She tells him: ‘I’m gonna be in February, but I want ideas.’ 

The remaining shows of Brand’s Bipolarisation tour were postponed and the Metropolitan Police said they had received a report of an alleged sexual assault in the wake of media allegations about the comedian and actor

Brand replies: ‘I suppose you’re 16, you can’t really drink booze yet, or any drugs, because that’s illegal.

’16, right, now you will legally be allowed to have sexual partners. Now I think you should theme the party around legal sex.

‘Why don’t you have it themed around vampires, because I suppose what you really want to do is heighten the mood of like, you’re 16, you’re still essentially a child, but you’re coming of age, I think you want to heighten the mood of danger?

READ MORE: Rumble defends allowing Russell Brand to monetise content as it slams ‘disturbing’ letter from UK parliamentary committee asking if it’s planning to ‘suspend his ability to earn money’

‘So dress as a, let’s say it’s a vampire themed party.’

His friend in the studio suggests a masked ball and Brand excitedly adds: ‘A venetian masked ball, that’s a good idea.

‘In its way erotic, but in a suppressed suitable way for a 16-year-old girl’

Another clip shows him having a conversation with DJ Tim Westwood.

Westwood tells him: ‘You’re just hitting a better class of girl right now, you don’t need to call me to hook you up.’

Brand responds: ‘Tim Westwood, I never looked at you as a pimp in a literal sense.’

He replies: ‘I think you did, you used to come to my parties and do the crazy frog on stage and catch girls, man.’

A further audio shows Brand saying: ‘That’s the policy I use for women… let’s not get bogged down in things like age, race or whether or not they’re awake…’ 

Brand ultimately left the BBC following ‘Sachsgate’ – in which he and Jonathan Ross left a crude voicemail on the answering machine of Andrew Sachs, best known for playing Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

Morgan, who appeared on Brand’s Radio 2 show from its inception, has previously stated that he was never aware of any seriously sexual allegations against Brand. 

He said earlier this month: ‘I stopped working with Russell Brand several years ago. During the time I worked with him, I was never aware of any allegations of serious sexual misconduct against him.

‘I absolutely condemn all forms of mistreatment of women. Looking back on the time I spent working on radio at the BBC, I am regretful to learn that a show I was part of made colleagues uncomfortable at times.’

Brand has around six million subscribers on YouTube, which earn him an estimated £49,000 a month 

The clips regularly touch on conspiracy theories, including the idea that the pandemic, the Ukraine war and climate change distract from the activities of the global elite

On Saturday, The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches reported allegations of abusive and predatory behaviour including rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse said to have been committed by the presenter between 2006 and 2013.

Brand ‘absolutely denies’ the allegations and insists all his relationships have been consensual. He went ahead with a gig on Saturday night when the programme was aired.

The news comes after the remaining shows of Brand’s Bipolarisation tour were postponed and the Metropolitan Police said they had received a report of an alleged sexual assault in the wake of media allegations about the comedian and actor. 

The scandal has already seen Channel 4 remove all programmes linked to Brand on its website, including episodes of The Great British Bake Off and Big Brother’s Big Mouth in which he was featured. 

Brand’s PR firm MBC PR and talent agent Tavistock Wood no longer advertise him as a client, and his publisher Bluebird, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, has suspended their relationship. 

And Netflix has now been urged to remove his comedy special, Re:Birth, from its catalogue. 

Brand’s YouTube account has been suspended from YouTube’s Partner Programme ‘following serious allegations against the creator’, meaning his channel is no longer able to make money from advertising.

YouTube added that suspending a creator from the YouTube Partner Programme means they are ‘prohibited from using a new or alternate channel to circumvent our enforcement decision’.

Brand still has a presence on video platform Rumble, where his channel has 1.4million followers and he hosts a weekly live show at 5pm BST, but there was no new episode on Monday.

His most video on Rumble is the short clip from Friday when he denied the allegations against him which were published the following day.

The Rumble channel description reads: ‘Everybody knows that the old ideas won’t help us. Religion is dead. Capitalism is dead. Communism is dead. Where will the answers of the next century lie? Particularly, when we’re facing a mental health epidemic and ecological meltdown.’   

Critics claim Brand has ‘set up a cult’ online to back him since the birth of the Me Too movement in 2017 by giving a platform to conspiracy theories including the idea that the pandemic, the Ukraine war and climate change distract from the activities of the global elite.

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