Due to allegations of sexual assault against comedian Russell Brand, the remaining dates of his run of live performances have been postponed.
Following the publication of allegations made against Russell Brand by multiple women in the media, British police announced on Monday that they had received a sexual assault allegation. The comedian was scheduled to perform a string of live shows; however, the promoters decided to cancel the remaining dates. In response to the allegations, Brand lost the support of a talent agency and a publisher as well. The U.K. entertainment business is now debating whether Brand’s unruly behaviour was tolerated because of his notoriety.
The 48-year-old Brand disputes the sexual assault claims made by four women in a Channel 4 programme and in the newspapers The Times and Sunday Times. One of the accusers, who has not been identified, claimed she was 16 when she dated him and experienced sexual abuse. Another lady claims that Brand violated her in 2012 in Los Angeles.
Since the claims became public, the London Metropolitan Police reported receiving “a report of a sexual assault that was alleged to have taken place in Soho in central London in 2003.” The earliest claimed attack mentioned in the media outlets allegedly occurred three years prior to it.
According to the police, “officers are in contact with the woman and will be supporting her.” Although it made reference to the newspaper and television reports, it did not name Brand as the alleged offender. “Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a sexual offence, no matter how long ago it was,” police advised, “to contact us.”
In a response to the media allegations, Brand declared in a video message that his relationships were “always consensual.”
On Monday, The Times reported that other women had contacted the publication with complaints against Brand, and those contacts will be “rigorously checked.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman Max Blain called the allegations “very serious and concerning.” The head of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee for the Conservative Party, Caroline Nokes, encouraged American and British authorities to look into the “incredibly shocking” allegations. Because males — and men are almost always the ones who commit these kinds of crimes — are not held accountable for their behaviours and actions, she said on BBC radio, “this merits and needs a criminal investigation.”
The allegations have reignited discussion of the “lad culture” that grew in popularity in Britain in the 1990s and early 2000s as well as the ongoing misogyny on the internet. When Brand was a major star in Britain with a rising U.S. profile between 2006 and 2013, the allegations covered by the tabloids and Channel 4 are relevant to that time frame.
He is well-known for his wild and obscene stand-up acts. He also hosts radio and television programmes, writes memoirs about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, makes appearances in various Hollywood productions, and was briefly married to music sensation Katy Perry from 2010 to 2012.
Brand received a suspension from the BBC in 2008 after boasting about having sex with Sachs’ granddaughter during filthy prank calls to the Fawlty Towers actor. Following the event, which resulted in thousands of complaints to the publicly financed station, he ended his radio programme.
Inquiries into Brand’s behaviour and how complaints were handled have reportedly been opened by the BBC, Channel 4, and the production firm for the Big Brother reality series, whose spinoffs Brand hosted. Tavistock Wood, a talent agency, also dropped Brand after claiming that he had “horribly misled” them. Bluebird, a Pan Macmillan imprint, announced that it had chosen to “pause” further publishing with Brand.
Why the victims reported so late
Brand’s supporters questioned why the accusations were being made so long after the allegedly occurred. When approached by journalists, the ladies stated they only felt ready to share their stories; some of them cited Brand’s rising notoriety as an online wellness influencer as a motivating factor.
British libel rules, which place the burden of proof on those making accusations and are claimant-friendly, must also be taken into consideration by victims and the media.
Brand has mostly vanished from the mainstream media in recent years, but she has amassed a sizable online following with videos fusing wellness and conspiracies. His YouTube channel, which has more than 6 million subscribers, has discussed conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 virus, false information about vaccines, and interviews with contentious media figures like Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan.
He has also kept up his comedy tours, and on Saturday night, he entertained hundreds of people in a London venue while the Channel 4 documentary was being aired. He was scheduled to appear in Windsor, west of London, on Tuesday, but the rest of the trip has been postponed, according to the organisers.
Despite efforts by women and others to diversify the comic scene, Ellie Tomsett, a senior lecturer in media and communications at Birmingham City University who studies Britain’s standup circuit, said Brand was a product of a live comedy scene that was rife with misogyny and still is.
When popular feminism has increased, Tomsett added, “we’ve also seen a rise in popular misogyny, which is best exemplified by people like (social media influencer) Andrew Tate but is pervasive in all facets of society and most definitely reflected on the U.K. comedy circuit.” The concept that it’s something that happened in the past and doesn’t happen now is, quite frankly, bullshit, she continued. “More and more things are springing up to try and counter this,” she said.