BBC failed to act on complaint that Brand exposed himself to a woman, broadcasting union says

Russell Brand and Matt Morgan on the road in the USA
Russell Brand and Matt Morgan took their BBC radio show on the road in the USA - Nancy Ericsson/BBC

The BBC failed to act on a complaint that Russell Brand exposed himself to a woman, the broadcasting union has claimed.

The alleged victim said that she was left stunned following the encounter with the comedian in a lavatory of the BBC’s Los Angeles office in June 2008.

Shortly after, he laughed about it on the pre-recorded Radio 2 show with Matt Morgan, his co-presenter, who said Brand “showed his w---- to a lady”.

Philippa Childs, the head of the broadcasting union Bectu, said it was “surprising, shocking and it should never have been broadcast” and that the broadcaster could have acted sooner.

Brand, 48, is facing allegations of rape, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and assault by four women between 2006 and 2013 in the UK and US. The Metropolitan Police have also launched an investigation of a sexual assault in 2003.

He has not yet commented on the latest claim, but he has vehemently denied the other allegations and said his relationships have been “always consensual”.

It has piled further pressure on the BBC, who have already been forced to launch an urgent inquiry into what it knew about wider alleged wrongdoing by Brand, with the director-general Tim Davie asking this week if the corporation “could have done more”.

The woman, who BBC News named under a pseudonym as Olivia, worked for a media company in the Los Angeles office where the comedian was recording the Russell Brand Show for Radio 2.

Encounter in the bathroom

She claimed she answered the door to Brand and his team and later went to the bathroom to get some medication.

As she looked through the medicine cabinet she realised someone was behind her and claimed that when she turned round it was Brand.

Brand allegedly called her “a bit of alright” and tried to call her Betty, but when she said that wasn’t her name, he replied. “Well, I’m gonna f--- you”, to which she said: “No, you’re not.”

Olivia claims the comedian pulled out his p---- on his hand and “pretty much served it to me as you would be serving someone some food”.

She never made a complaint and said she was worried about the potential impact on her and her family if she had raised it officially.

In 2019, BBC management was informed about the incident by a staff member who had spoken to Olivia but no formal action was taken.

Ms Childs of the Bectu union told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning: “The BBC should have thoroughly investigated the complaint, looked into the circumstances around that particular broadcast and taken action then.

“Had they done so, we might not be in the situation that we’re in now many years later looking into various allegations around Russell Brand.”

Russell Brand naked and is arrested during the May Day protests in Piccadilly Circus, London, in 2002
Russell Brand stripped naked during protests in London, in 2002, and was arrested - Bernadette Lou/Shutterstock

It is not the first time Brand has been accused of exposing himself, after pictures showed him nude at the 2002 May Day protests in Piccadilly, central London.

The BBC said in a statement that it “would be very keen to hear from her and anyone else who may have information” and “will of course speak to the bureau team and anyone who was working there in 2008 as part of this”.

A spokesman added: “Further, the director-general has been very clear that some broadcasts from that period were, and are, inexcusable and totally unacceptable, and would never be aired today.”

In a statement sent to the BBC via his legal team, former co-host Morgan said: “I was not aware until now of the nature of this encounter.

“I have expressed my regret now looking back at the impact of the show, and this is a further example.

“The recent coverage has been very distressing to read and I reiterate my absolute condemnation of any form of mistreatment of women.”

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