BBC under fire over handling of Russel Brand complaints

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

London – Complaints about Russell Brand prior to his dismissal from the BBC in 2008 were never reported to a more senior executive than the head of Radio 2, insiders have told The Telegraph.

The BBC has begun a trawl of complaints about Brand’s behaviour during his stint as a presenter, first on 6Music in 2006 and then on Radio 2 until his sacking in 2008. Brand and presenter Jonathan Ross were sacked over lewd messages they left on the answering machine of actor Andrew Sachs’ (who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers) relating to Brand’s relationship with Sachs’ granddaughter.

Russell Brand as he appeared on social media over the weekend.Credit: @russellbrand/instagram

But sources said it had not found any paper trail to date that went beyond the network’s senior management.

The corporation has now written to Lesley Douglas, who was controller of Radio 2 at the time, informing her that she no longer needs to stick to confidentiality agreements put in place when she left the BBC.

That means she could give evidence to the BBC review. A letter was sent to Ms Douglas from the BBC allowing her to give a full account of what she knew.

She resigned in October 2008 as part of the clearout in the wake of the scandal over prank calls made by Brand and Ross to Sachs.

A joint investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches and The Sunday Times disclosed that four women accused Brand of sexual assault between 2006 and 2013. One of the women alleged that Brand had raped her.

Brand has denied all wrongdoing and insisted that while he was promiscuous at the time, all sexual acts were consensual.

The current investigation prompted the BBC to launch an internal review into Brand’s behaviour at the BBC, led by Peter Johnston, the corporation’s director of editorial complaints and reviews.

Sources said the review had yet to uncover any evidence that executives beyond Radio 2 were aware of any wrongdoing prior to what became known as Sachsgate in October 2008.

Jonathan Ross, left, and Russell Brand, right were sacked by the BBC in 2008 because they left lewd messages on the voicemail of Andrew Sachs.Credit: AP Photo/PA/file

Sources stressed that the complaints that were made against Brand were not of a sexual nature.

On one occasion, it is claimed that BBC staff went to Ms Douglas in 2007 and complained over what was described as an “alarming display of aggression and disrespect” after he allegedly threw objects in a fit of rage in a studio.

It is also claimed he urinated in full view of staff and a guest, who it has been reported “appeared to be a minor”.

Last week, the BBC reported that in 2008, Brand had exposed himself to a female member of BBC staff at a studio in Los Angeles before laughing about it on his radio show. But it is not thought that a complaint was raised with senior executives at the time.

Tim Davie, the BBC’s director-general, had been appointed director of audio, in charge of all the BBC’s radio output, at the time of Sachsgate.

Mr Davie had been in post a little over a month when the scandal blew up. Sources close to Mr Davie insist he had no idea about Brand’s behaviour until his sacking.

Sir Mark Thompson, who was director-general at the time and who is about to take up a new post as chairman of CNN, insisted he was completely unaware of concerns about Brand until Sachsgate.

Sources said that while new material may still come to light, there was currently no evidence that concerns were raised with Mr Davie or Sir Mark.

“There is nothing so far that suggests Tim Davie or Mark Thompson were ever warned about Brand’s conduct,” said a source.

A spokesman for Sir Mark said: “Mark Thompson’s record in taking immediate action in respect to completely appalling behaviour by Russell Brand on BBC radio is clear and has been well reported on in the past.

“Within four days of being made aware of the offending broadcast with Jonathan Ross, an internal investigation had been delivered to the BBC’s governing body, Russell Brand had left the corporation, as did the controller of Radio 2, followed by the head of compliance.

“Mark had not been made aware, nor to his knowledge had other BBC senior executives, of any other editorial breaches on Russell Brand’s radio programme.

“Like everyone, Mark is horrified by the alleged behaviours of Russell Brand that have recently come to light in various reporting.”

When approached earlier in the month, Ms Douglas said in a statement issued by her lawyers that she “did not at any time encourage, enable and/or fail herself to take any adequate steps within her power with regard to the conduct of Russell Brand of which she was aware”.

The Telegraph, London

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

Most Viewed in Culture

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article