OPINION - The Standard View: So many questions surround the Russell Brand years

‘Urgent’ internal probes launched after claims of misconduct by Russell Brand (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
‘Urgent’ internal probes launched after claims of misconduct by Russell Brand (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

British libel law — one of the strictest in the world — ensures that a high bar is imposed for any accusations of impropriety. As such, it would be foolish to dismiss reporting by journalists at The Times, The Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches, some of whom have been working on the story about the comedian Russell Brand for years.

Brand, who worked for BBC radio for two years as well as Channel 4, has denied accusations of sexual assault against four women, which allegedly took place between 2006 and 2013. Both organisations have launched their own internal investigations, while the Metropolitan Police said it would speak to the documentary makers about the claims made.

It is easy to reflect on that period of British public life and slip into a cringe-induced coma. The lad mags, the bile, the “Shagger of the Year” award won three successive times by Brand. But it was not all that long ago — these were the mores of the mid-2000s, not some long-forgotten epoch.

Rumours and whispers are not sufficient to publish serious allegations, and nor should they be. But people will wonder why the organisations which hired Brand and used him to boost ratings and sales, appeared so unbothered by his behaviour when he was at his most powerful.

Met must build trust

Public trust in the Met is falling. Among black Londoners, it lies at just 58 per cent. Rebuilding that credibility will take time and require a force-wide effort.

Today, that begins with the gross misconduct hearing into five officers involved in the stop-and-search of Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, in 2020. The couple accused the Met of “racial profiling” when they were handcuffed and separated from their three-month-old son during the incident.

Ms Williams said she hoped the hearings would open “the door for the Met to start being more honest about the culture of racism which is undoubtedly still a reality within the organisation”. To that end, any officers found guilty of gross misconduct must be sacked.

Truss’s legacy lives on

The problem with Trussonomics, much like communism, is that it was never properly tried. That appears to be the view of the progenitor herself, as well as her few remaining media outriders.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Liz Truss failed because she lost the support of the markets, her own MPs and the public at large. Perhaps the proceeds of her book could go towards the higher debt interest payments her mini-Budget delivered.