PRESSURE was mounting on BBC and Channel 4 last night after they were accused of “enabling” Russell Brand’s alleged predatory behaviour.
Both organisations revealed yesterday they were urgently starting investigations after the bombshell allegations of rape and sex assaults made about their former host.
And MPs and lawyers said the investigation by The Sunday Times and Dispatches documentary posed huge questions.
In a fraught 24 hours for the BBC, with serious claims against one of its ex-stars, the broadcaster is again facing allegations it failed to act on serious complaints — just like the Jimmy Savile scandal.
On his Radio 2 show Brand is alleged to have exposed his genitals to colleagues and show guests — with one appearing to be a minor — by urinating in a bottle.
Staff say a serious complaint was made to station controller Lesley Douglas but no formal action was taken.
Brand hinted in his autobiography that while on BBC 6 Music, he had been having sex with competition winners in the toilets.
His book implied Douglas was aware, but no action was taken.
Soon after joining Radio 2, Brand repeatedly directed sexual comments towards newsreader Andrea Simmons.
He said on air that she was not happy and she had told senior producers, but the behaviour did not stop.
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It is not known whether Douglas was made aware of the incident but as controller of the station it is reasonable to believe she would have been informed.
Douglas hired Brand, 48, and colleagues said she was in awe of his talents.
She could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Speaking on Dispatches, former BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey said: “Both the broadcaster and the production company are jointly responsible for duty of care and for standards to be upheld during the production.
“He went from being a heroin addict live on air on MTV, a sex addict live on air on E4, to a predator live on air on Radio 6 and Radio 2, he kept progressing, nothing held him back, so he thought he could do whatever he wanted.
“He was allowed to say the unsayable, to do the unthinkable, and consistently got away with it.”
The exposé revealed a series of allegations about Brand’s behaviour — which he denies.
While working on Channel 4’s Big Brother’s EFourum for three years from 2004, two ex-crew members claimed they felt like they were working as a “pimp” for Brand.
They alleged he would regularly ask researchers and runners to approach young female audience members so he could pursue them for sex.
One former worker said: “It was like we were taking lambs into slaughter. We were basically acting like pimps to Russell Brand’s needs.”
A runner — 24 at the time — alleged that Brand flashed at her in a dressing room and insinuated she perform a sex act on him.
And Helen Berger — Brand’s personal assistant in 2006 — said he often wore only underwear while she worked.
On one spin-off show he dropped his trousers.
Brand was sacked from the BBC in October 2008 after he and co- presenter Jonathan Ross made prank calls to late Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs live on Radio 2 and left lewd messages about Brand sleeping with his granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.
Matt Morgan, Brand’s Radio 2 co-presenter, said: “During the time I worked with him, I was never aware of any allegations of serious sexual misconduct against him.
“I absolutely condemn all forms of mistreatment of women.
“Looking back on the time I spent working on radio at the BBC, I am regretful to learn that a show I was part of made colleagues uncomfortable at times.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly yesterday said the entertainment industry had questions to answer.
He said there was a “particular problem, where you have environments where there are very, very sharp differentials in power”.
He added: “We see that in the film industry, the entertainment industry and sadly, of course, in terms of politics.”
Tory MP Marco Longhi said yesterday he “would encourage anyone with relevant information to come forward and have their evidence assessed by the appropriate authorities, such as the police”.
Yesterday, Banijay — a production company that bought Big Brother makers Endemol — said it had launched an “urgent investigation”.
The BBC said it was “urgently looking into the issues raised”.
Channel 4 was also conducting its own internal investigation.
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED
BOSSES at Channel 4 and the BBC have a string of key questions to answer over the Russell Brand scandal. These include…
- What complaints did you receive about him when he was working at your channel?
- What is the response of your channel to accusations that his behaviour was an “open secret”?
- Why has Channel 4 refused to answer a Freedom of Information request?
- Why was Brand allowed to repeatedly make sexual comments on-air at the BBC about newsreader Andrea Simmons?
- Has the BBC spoken to Lesley Douglas following the investigation?
- What are you, as broadcasters, urgently reviewing following the investigation?
- Why was his behaviour not reviewed before now?
- Has your channel now asked to interview Russell Brand about his behaviour?