The comedian has been accused of serious sexual assault by multiple women. He denies the allegations and says, without evidence, that they could be part of an attempt by mainstream media to silence him. Where has that claim come from?
Four women have accused comedian Russell Brand of sexual abuse in a joint investigation by multiple news organisations published over the weekend.
Brand strenuously denies the allegations and says all his relationships have been “consensual”.
The incidents, reported by the Sunday Times, the Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches, are alleged to have occurred between 2006 and 2013. One woman, who is using the pseudonym Alice, alleges that Brand groomed and sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old.
In a video posted online before the investigation was published Brand suggested, without evidence, that he was the victim of a “coordinated media attack” by mainstream outlets.
“Over the last five or so years [Brand] has been cultivating this personality against the mainstream media,” says Chris Stokel-Walker, tech journalist and author of YouTubers.
In recent years Brand’s largest audiences have been online. Interest in his YouTube channel ballooned during the pandemic when he discussed Covid conspiracy theories: he now has 6.5m subscribers.
This week YouTube demonetised Brand’s channels – meaning he can no longer make money from advertising – for “violating” its “creator responsibility policy”.
Brand has already made moves to diversify away from the platform. He has a small but committed following on the social media platform Rumble, a right-wing YouTube alternative used by Donald Trump and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“It’s a canny move from him,” says Stokel-Walker.
Cultivating these online communities gives Brand a direct line to his supporters and allows them to directly fund him. He also has some vocal backers in the media including a GB News presenter and a Telegraph columnist.
But elsewhere the tide has turned. Brand’s tour has been postponed and the BBC and Channel 4 have removed programmes featuring him.
On Monday the Metropolitan Police said that it had received an allegation of sexual assault against Brand dating back to 2003.
Brand hasn’t addressed the allegations since his video denial over the weekend.
His lawyers have accused the Times and Sunday Times of a “concerted campaign” against their client – who believes that there is a “deeply concerning agenda to all this, namely the fact that he is an alternative media broadcaster competing with mainstream media.”
They had been given 8 days to respond to the allegations, including information to enable him to recall the alleged incidents.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, ‘Alice’, who alleges Brand groomed her aged 16, described his response as “insulting” but said that she was “expecting it”.
Today’s episode was written by Claudia Williams and mixed by Imy Harper.