Pressure is mounting on TV industry execs as allegations of sexual misconduct by entertainer Russell Brand come to light.
The criminal allegations, which Brand strongly refutes, are prompting calls for police involvement and raising questions about a culture of power exploitation in the television sector.
Over the weekend a joint investigation by the Times, the Sunday Times and Channel 4 levelled accusations at Brand, which include accounts of rape, sexual assaults, and abuse spanning several years.
Brand’s rise to fame in the early 2000s through shows on Channel 4 and the BBC has now become the centre of attention due to these allegations.
Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, expressed serious concerns.
She said: “The report makes very serious and disturbing allegations. Another tale of alleged exploitation of power in the TV industry. Once again behaviour described an ‘open secret’ from those in Russell Brand’s orbit.
“The Culture, Media and Sport Committee are keen to understand the response of the police to this body of evidence.
“We will be looking closely at the media, and especially our public service broadcasters, response to these allegations, and the issues this, yet again, raises about culture in the industry.”
Damian Collins, a former culture minister and former chair of the culture committee, called for a thorough investigation into the “very serious” allegations, while Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury, said the BBC and Channel 4 “certainly have questions to answer.”
Both Channel 4 and the BBC have issued statements in response to the claims against Brand.
Channel 4, where Brand worked during the alleged incidents between 2004 and 2007, is determined to understand the “full nature” of what transpired and will investigate further.
A spokesperson said: “We have carried out extensive document searches and have found no evidence to suggest the alleged incidents were brought to the attention of Channel 4.
“We will continue to review this in light of any further information we receive, including the accounts of those affected individuals.”
The Sunday Times reported that complaints were made by BBC staff about Brand’s behaviour, including incidents of aggression and inappropriate conduct.
Referring to a past investigation into a prank call made by Brand to now late actor Andrew Sachs, the BBC said “the circumstances of the breach were reviewed in detail at the time.”
It resulted in a £150,000 Ofcom fine for the public broadcaster.
“We hope that demonstrates that the BBC takes issues seriously and is prepared to act,” it said.