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Making Russell Brand complaint to Channel 4 was ‘exhausting’, woman says

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

A woman who made allegations about Russell Brand to Channel 4 in 2009 has said the process of complaining to the broadcaster has been “disempowering and exhausting”.

The 48-year-old actor and comedian was accused of rape, assault and emotional abuse as part of a joint investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, The Times and Sunday Times.

Brand has strongly denied all accusations about his behaviour at the height of his fame between 2006 and 2013, and recently told former Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a YouTube interview that the claims were “very, very hurtful”.

On Thursday, Channel 4 released the results of an investigation into Brand’s alleged behaviour on the broadcaster’s shows Big Brother’s Big Mouth and Kings Of Comedy between 2004 and 2007.

It found that there was “no evidence to suggest there was knowledge within the channel of the allegations contained in the Dispatches programme”.

However, the report did acknowledge a 2009 complaint “was not passed up Channel 4’s senior management chain, nor investigated as it ought to have been in accordance with the procedures in place at the time”.

The broadcaster also said there were “delays” in making contact with the woman when she raised her complaint again in September following the airing of the documentary Russell Brand: In Plain Sight: Dispatches.

They repeatedly tried to shut down the complaint. I feel really disempowered and unsupported by Channel 4

Complainant

The Sunday Times said they have since spoken to the woman, who said: “I came forward hoping that it would help bring about change and that bad behaviour would never again be tolerated in the television industry.

“Instead, the whole process has been disempowering and exhausting.

“What Channel 4 management seem to care most about is covering their backs.

“I no longer believe they wanted to get to the bottom of what happened. It’s a whitewash.”

She also claimed in the newspaper report the process was “shambolic”, saying she was first directed to an automated message and when she did speak to someone, they told her that the investigation had been concluded in October.

“They repeatedly tried to shut down the complaint,” she said. “I feel really disempowered and unsupported by Channel 4.”

Earlier this week, Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon called the woman’s complaint a “serious and concerning allegation” and apologised for it not being escalated at the time, and “for the distress this matter has caused”.

She added that “it is a matter of regret for our industry that repugnant behaviours were tolerated – and indeed appeared on-air – in the past”, and she was committed to staff and external suppliers that they would not have to experience “inappropriate behaviour” again.

Another woman, who alleged she was in a relationship with Brand when she was 16 in the original Dispatches programme, has also criticised Channel 4’s report.

The woman, who the Sunday Times refers to as Alice, said: “How can they possibly claim this is a ‘comprehensive and far-reaching’ investigation when they didn’t even speak to one of the main voices in their programme? This shows just how little has changed since 2014.”

Alice also said the BBC, where Brand worked between 2006 and 2008 as a presenter on Radio 2 and Radio 6 Music programmes, has contacted her.

We do not consider this matter closed. We have passed a summary report of our investigation to the Metropolitan Police

Channel 4

An investigation was also launched last year by Banijay UK, which bought Endemol, the company commissioned by Channel 4 to produce the Big Brother spin-off shows Brand hosted.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said on Sunday the broadcaster is “appalled” by the accusations made against Brand and has “commended” people for coming forward.

He added: “Channel 4 has delivered a wide-ranging internal investigation into the allegations as they pertain to the channel – reviewing 111,984 emails and 333 files of documents, approaching 88 current and former Channel 4 employees for interview and informed by information from investigations of reports to our Speak Up facility – but we do not have the power to compel people to speak to us or provide information.

“We do not consider this matter closed. We have passed a summary report of our investigation to the Metropolitan Police.

“Channel 4 respected ‘Alice’s’ anonymity so did not approach her but we have offered her the option to speak to the channel on a confidential basis.

“If she chooses to accept, we would add the information she shares to our existing findings and will act on any new leads provided to us.”

The spokesman also highlighted the channel’s confidential Speak Up facility available on 0800 915 1571 and online at www.safecall.co.uk/report.

“We remain committed to establishing the fullest possible picture of what happened, helping ensure we have an industry that does not tolerate inappropriate behaviour and listening to the people who have bravely come forward,” the spokesman added.

Brand, who starred in comedy films Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To The Greek and Arthur, has also denied allegations of controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour.