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Leigh Francis responds to Russell Brand sexual assault allegations: ‘It’s just sad’

Leigh Francis has said that he feels “sad” for both Russell Brand and his alleged victims following allegations of sexual assault against his fellow comedian.

Earlier this month, Brand, 48, was accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by four women. The comedian and media personality has denied all the “very serious allegations” aimed at him, which date back to between 2006 and 2013.

Following the allegations against Brand, which were made in a joint investigation by The Times, The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches, programmes starring the presenter were subsequently removed from the BBC and Channel 4’s streaming services. He was then blocked from making advertising revenue on his YouTube Channel.

On Monday (25 September), the Metropolitan Police announced it had opened an investigation into a “number of allegations of sexual offences” it had received against Brand in London and elsewhere in the country.

Comedian Francis – best known for his comedy characters Keith Lemon and Bo Selecta – has now shared his thoughts on the allegations against Brand.

Speaking to the Mail Online on Wednesday (27 September), Francis, 50, said that he felt “sad” for all involved.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t comment on it – it’s just sad, isn’t it?” he said.

“It’s a saddening thing for everyone. It’s sad for the ladies, it’s sad for his family and it’s sad for him.”

Francis dressed as Brand in 2006 (Getty Images)
Francis dressed as Brand in 2006 (Getty Images)

While Francis has previously been criticised for “offensive” portrayals of celebrities including Craig David, Melanie Sykes and Lorraine Kelly on his shows, the Celebrity Juice presenter said that he didn’t fear facing similar allegations to Brand.

“I’ve been married to the same lady since I was a little boy,” he said. “I met my wife when I was 19, and I got married when I was 30 to the same lady, so there’s no worry about me getting cancelled for that.”

Following news this week that police had opened an investigation into a number of allegations against Brand, the Get Him to the Greek star shared a video on the website Rumble asking for donations.

“You now know that I have been demonetised on YouTube… fully well aware that the government wrote to social media platforms to demand that I be further censored,” he said during the live broadcast, urging his followers to become paying subscribers to his channel at an annual cost of $60 (£49).

The comment was an apparent reference to a letter written by the chair of a parliamentary committee. In it, Dame Caroline Dinenage (who is not a member of the government), asks if Rumble will be following in YouTube’s example and cutting Brand off from advertising revenues.

Brand has asked his followers for financial support (PA)
Brand has asked his followers for financial support (PA)

Rumble rejected the suggestion, with chief executive Chris Pavlovski writing online: “Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company’s values and mission. We emphatically reject the UK parliament’s demands.”

Brand joined Rumble in September 2022, after receiving repeated warnings from YouTube over his mostly Covid-related videos. He claimed Rumble was a better platform for his content, as it advertises looser restrictions and a steadfast “resist censorship” ethos.

If you have information in relation to the allegations against Russell Brand that you would like to share with The Independent’s reporting team, please email yourstories@independent.co.uk

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk.

If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)