Channel 4 has published a report which finds that Channel 4 was not aware of allegations of improper behaviour by Russell Brand while he was engaged in Channel 4 programming.

The investigation found no evidence to suggest that there was knowledge within the channel of the allegations contained in the Dispatches programme about Russell Brand’s behaviour while he was a presenter on Big Brother’s Big Mouth and Kings of Comedy between 2004 and 2007. No evidence was found to substantiate the allegation in the programme that Russell Brand’s behaviour had been discussed in a commissioning meeting in 2014.

A summary of the report has been passed to the Metropolitan Police and the channel has stated that it will cooperate fully with relevant authorities if requested.

Banijay is yet to publish findings from its own investigation into programming produced by Endemol in 2004 and 2005.

On 17 September 2023, Channel 4 and Banijay announced they had opened an investigation following the broadcast of allegations contained in Russell Brand: In Plain Sight: Dispatches (pictured), which aired on 16 September 2023.

The focus of Channel 4’s CEO, Board and Ethics Committee was to ensure that a comprehensive and far-reaching investigation was undertaken to examine whether people at Channel 4 were aware of the alleged improper behaviour by Russell Brand while he was engaged in programmes made for Channel 4 between 2004 and 2007. The investigation also examined if any concerns of a similar nature were known about and, if so, if these were escalated within Channel 4 and, finally, if any action was taken.

The Board and Ethics Committee are satisfied that the investigation, led by Channel 4’s Controller of Legal and Compliance, was robust, thorough and with clear and appropriate governance in place. The investigating team reviewed 111,984 emails and 333 files of archived hard copy documents, with 88 current and former Channel 4 employees approached for interview. The investigating team received support from external lawyers Reed Smith in reviewing the hard copy and electronic documents.

The investigation is now complete, and Channel 4 has today published a summary of its findings and recommendations put forward by the investigating team.

The investigating team also examined what was known about Russell Brand within senior levels at the channel during the period when the Dispatches team started to explore this story. Development of the programme was formally commissioned in December 2019. Russell Brand was engaged as a participant on a Celebrity Bake Off Stand Up to Cancer special recorded in autumn 2018, but not broadcast until March 2019.

While the investigation found that the recollections of former and current Channel 4 staff interviewed varied about when concerns around Russell Brand started to circulate within the commissioning team, the investigating team found no written or corroborated evidence to show that suspicions of serious allegations about Russell Brand’s behaviour were held within the channel before the special was broadcast. No record was found of concerns being raised within Channel 4, or in public, at the time of Russell Brand’s casting in the Celebrity Bake Off Stand Up to Cancer special or after its broadcast in March 2019.

In the many years since the alleged incidents took place, there have been extensive changes in Channel 4’s management and commissioning teams as well as in the organisation’s implementation of a zero-tolerance approach to unacceptable behaviour. Today, rigorous safeguarding policies and whistleblowing support ensures staff and suppliers can report concerns anonymously and confidentiality.

Following broadcast of the Dispatches programme in 2023, Channel 4 received two reports via its confidential Speak Up facility which related to historical alleged behaviour by Russell Brand. These were investigated by Channel 4 according to its regular Speak Up processes.

The first was reported anonymously and with limited information. The investigation team was unable to substantiate the complaint.

Concerning the second report, Channel 4’s investigation identified specific shortcomings in how an allegation related to Russell Brand’s conduct towards a Channel 4 staff member was dealt with by Channel 4 when it was originally made in 2009. That allegation was not passed up Channel 4’s senior management chain, nor investigated as it ought to have been in accordance with the procedures in place at the time. Channel 4 also acknowledges delays in its ongoing communications with the former employee in 2023 due to the length of its investigation. Channel 4 has apologised to the former Channel 4 staff member for the breakdown in 2009, communication delays in 2023 and the distress this matter has caused.

Channel 4 is aware for both individuals it took a couple of hours for them to reach the Speak Up facility on the days they first contacted the channel. Channel 4 has subsequently reviewed its processes to ensure it provides the best experience for people contacting the organisation.

Sir Ian Cheshire, Chair of Channel 4 said: “I would like to thank the investigating team for conducting a careful and far-reaching review and to thank those interviewed for their assistance.

“The Board is satisfied that no Channel 4 employees were aware of the deeply disturbing alleged behaviour contained in Russell Brand: In Plain Sight: Dispatches. However, we consider it clear that a serious allegation about Russell Brand was made in 2009 by a then serving member of staff which was not properly investigated nor escalated to Channel 4’s then senior management.

“The Board and Ethics Committee are confident that strengthened safeguarding processes introduced in the past decade mean that an allegation such as this would today be reportable through multiple routes.

“The investigation’s recommendations, which are accepted in full, will further strengthen Channel 4’s already rigorous safeguarding processes to further protect and uphold the welfare of all employees and those that the channel works with.”
Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4 said: “The investigating team, with external legal help, have conducted an extremely thorough investigation into the Dispatches allegations as they pertain to Channel 4. Doing this investigation properly in extensive detail was a very important principle for us.

“Whilst the investigation did not find any evidence to suggest that any Channel 4 employees were aware of Russell Brand’s alleged behaviour contained in the programme, it did find that one former Channel 4 employee made a serious and concerning allegation about Russell Brand in 2009. This was not escalated to Channel 4’s then senior management team, nor investigated as it should have been. I have apologised on behalf of the organisation to the individual for this breakdown and for the distress this matter has caused.

“In my view, it is a matter of regret for our industry that repugnant behaviours were tolerated – and indeed appeared on-air – in the past. Production staff, employees and suppliers should never experience inappropriate behaviour. Channel 4 and I are committed to creating an environment where if any employee or person working on a Channel 4-commissioned show feels uncomfortable about behaviour towards them, then processes are in place for investigation and for appropriate action to be taken.

“I commend the journalists involved in reporting the allegations and the people who have bravely come forward. Channel 4 has reported on itself without fear and investigated our own historical corporate responsibility thoroughly. While there is always more to be done, I am confident about the changes that have taken place in our industry over recent years, and it should now be clear that inappropriate and offensive behaviour has no place in it. I hope these issues can ultimately lead to further positive change.”

Pippa Considine

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