“What led to that being on air?,” questioned Director General Tim Davie of Russell Brand’s old BBC broadcasts today, as he set out the scope of the review into Brand, which should report back in “weeks not months.”
Addressing the allegations in an all-staff Q&A this afternoon, Davie said Peter Johnston, Director of Editorial Complaints and Reviews, will oversee the report.
“We’ll look at any complaints made about Russell Brand’s conduct during his time, what was known at the time, what was done – so full transparency, we’re digging into anything that we’ve got there,” he added. “I’m hoping for an initial report in weeks, not months. So this is not something we want to take too long [over], but we do want to get to the facts.”
Brand presented shows on BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 2 between 2006 and 2008 before he was sacked after prank-calling Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs. At the time, Davie ran the corporation’s radio coverage.
Over the weekend, Brand was accused by four women of allegations ranging from rape to sexual assault and the BBC, Channel 4 and Big Brother producer Banijay are all investigating, while shows featuring Brand have been removed from the BBC and Channel 4’s VoD players. Brand vehemently denies the claims and has said all of his relationships were consensual. He has not commented since publishing a video across his social media channels in which he preemptively denied the “litany” of allegations about his criminal behavior.
One of the women who spoke to The Times and Channel 4 alleges a car arranged by the BBC took her from school to the star’s house when she was 16 and Davie said today the review will “look at the position regarding any cars used by the BBC at that time – because that was obviously something that, again, in a powerful testimony, was mentioned.”
“What led to that being on air?”
Davie said he had listened back to broadcasts from Brand’s days working on BBC shows and found them “completely unacceptable,” questioning: “What led to that being on air?”
“I just look at that stuff and I say there is no way I will listen to that, there’s no way I accept it,” he added. “We have to be clear about that together, that we will not accept that.”
He said the BBC has updated processes in recent years and urged staff to come to him if they have issues.
“These are very serious allegations,” he added. “And if you watch that [Channel 4] Dispatches programme, like many people will have done, you can’t help be moved by the incredible, powerful testimony.”
The Brand review is one of a number being conducted into the behavior of presenters who have worked for the BBC. A similar report into historical allegations against DJ Tim Westwood is due to publish soon, along with two reviews about newsreader Huw Edwards, who allegedly paid a young person for indecent images.