Russell Brand could remarkably emerge from potentially career-ending accusations about his alleged behaviour towards women with a large portion of his fanbase still intact, a PR expert has said.
The comedian has been accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by multiple women, including one who said she was 16 at the time, following a three-year-long investigation by multiple news outlets.
He has since been dropped by a women’s charity he was working with, while TV production companies and channels have launched probes into his alleged behaviour.
Brand, who is currently taking his new stand-up show, Bipolarisation, on a tour around Britain with dates coming up in Windsor, Plymouth and Wolverhampton this month, denies claims and released a video last week insisting his relationships were ‘consensual’.
In recent years the comedian has featured in feature films such as Death on the Nile and Minions: The Rise of Gru, while also hosting a daily podcast on video platform Rumble.
Russell Brand, pictured at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre last night, could keep a large amount of his fanbase despite the allegations against him, a PR expert has said
The comedian has strenuously denied allegations that he raped, sexually assaulted and emotionally abused multiple women. Pictured: Brand in a video released on social media denying the claims
In recent years Brand has found work as a stand-up comedian, podcaster and actor. Pictured: The 48-year-old in the 2022 film Death on the Nile
The 48-year-old, who lives in a £3million seven-bedroom Oxfordshire mansion with his wife Laura and their two children, is believed to have accrued £16million in wealth since his meteoric rise to fame, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
This has seen him feature in hit films including Despicable Me and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, write best selling novels such as My Booky Wook and go on multiple sell-out stand-up tours of Britain.
In recent years he has built up a loyal following of fans on social media – he has 3.8million followers on Instagram, 6.6million subscribers on YouTube, 11.2million followers on Twitter and 5.9million on Facebook.
Among the most devoted fans are listeners to his podcast, on which he rails against ‘Big Pharma’ and the mainstream media, as well as promoting conspiracy theories.
The allegations of ‘sinister’ behaviour towards women made against him have the potential to end careers in showbusiness.
These include claims he made runners on Big Brother’s EFourum, which was later known as Big Brother’s Big Mouth, ‘act like pimps’ by demanding they get the numbers of women in the audience for him.
One staff member claimed she felt she was ‘groomed’ for sex by the presenter, while another said they had reported concerns about his behaviour to managers at production company Endemol. Banijay UK, which bought the firm in 2020, has launched an investigation into the claims.
In the investigations, one woman alleged Brand raped her against the wall in his Los Angeles home when she was in her 30s. Another – whom he allegedly referred to as ‘the child’ – told how the presenter targeted her when was 16 years old and still at school, and he was aged 30.
However, despite these claims, PR expert Mark Borkowski says the comic could retain a significant proportion of his fanbase even as brands and his fellow comedians desert him.
Mr Borkowski, who has worked in public relations for more than 40 years, says the damage to Brand’s reputation will largely depend on whether his supporters believe reports about his alleged behaviour.
He said the 48-year-old has decided to ‘wage war’ on the mainstream media by claiming they are out to get him and he has built up an audience who are inclined to believe him.
Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Borkowski said: ‘For all the writing about this, Russell Brand has I don’t know how many millions of followers of his social media.
‘This is going to be a matter of who they’re going to trust and whether the mainstream media has the same power that they had at the time of Harvey Weinstein.
‘He [Brand] has an audience and lots and lots of people who are engaged in his content. He’s making this a war against them [the mainstream media].’
He added that the comedian’s denial of the accusations was reminiscent of how Donald Trump deals with accusations of improper behaviour.
Mr Borkowski said: ‘I think there will be a profound amount of people who will stand by him. Normally with allegations like this your career would be over, but not in this case, which is interesting.
‘He’s a great content generator. He didn’t get to the top of his profession because he’s mediocre. He has the power to bewitch his audience.’
The PR guru added that the people within the organisations where Brand was working have questions to answer.
He said: ‘It’s a triumph for investigative journalism. I’m sure it’s going to win lots of awards, it’s very thorough, they’ve obviously been working on this for some time.
‘It throws up questions against someone who has been allowed a certain amount of power because of his talent and his meteoric rise.
‘It questions Russell Brand but also those in governance in TV. There will be a lot of people looking at themselves this morning – those people in power today won’t be the same ones in power that presided over this.’
He added that Brand was in effect facing ‘trial by media’.
‘There’s a question whether he’s going to face police action, but the question at the moment is of social media – the man isn’t going to get a fair trial when the police have the evidence to prosecute him.
‘More people may come forward, other people might see an opportunity. It’s a very complex case, mixed between old media and social media. I don’t think it’s going to be as simple as others think if he’s going to be Trumpian about it.
‘The crimes he’s been accused of are horrendous, and are damaging for him and for people were looking after him at the time.
‘I’ve been involved in these types of crises [in PR] and it just depends on whether somebody accepts what they’ve done.
‘Through all this the alleged victims may never see justice. Trial by media and verdict by media would not be proper retribution for what they women claim to have suffered.’
Last night, the Met Police said it had been made ‘aware’ of media reports about ‘a series of allegations of sexual assault’ and urged any alleged victims to come forward.
But in an extra-ordinary pre-emptive fightback, Brand took to social media ahead of the 90-minute Dispatches documentary to the social media to ‘absolutely deny’ a string of ‘very serious criminal allegations’.
While TV bosses investigate the claims made by Brand’s accusers, the comic has received support online from the likes of Andrew Tate, Elon Musk, Laurence Fox and his sister-in-law Kirsty Gallacher.
Andrew Tate took to X, posting a cartoon meme of a knight preparing for battle, captioned: ‘On my way to fight the crazy b***h allegations’
In a separate Tweet responding to Brand’s video he called the allegations made against the comedian a ‘Matrix attack’
Responding to the Tweet, tech mogul Elon Musk told Brand: ‘Of course. They don’t like competition’
Smooth Radio presenter Kirsty Gallacher shared Brand’s video on her Instagram story with a large red love heart, however, a few hours later and after the investigation was published in full at 4pm BST, the post vanished from her Instagram stories, suggesting she had deleted it
Appearing to support Brand, Tate said ‘Welcome to the club Russell Brand’ accompanied by a cartoon meme of a knight preparing for battle, captioned: ‘On my way to fight the crazy b***h allegations’.
Tate, who is currently facing charges of rape and human trafficking – which he has denied – in a separate Tweet responded to Brand’s video calling it a ‘Matrix attack’.
Meanwhile, Tesla and X owner Musk, also appeared to back the under fire star’s comments on the media. He said: ‘Of course. They don’t like competition.’
In a video questioning the allegations against Brand, Fox said: ‘It’s fascinating to see some parts of the legacy media talking about Russell Brand like we are going to believe anything they say about anything.
‘Whatever Russell Brand got up to, and I can guarantee it because I was around, everything he would have done, would have been sort of acceptable.
‘Because otherwise his producers would have called him out and fired him.
‘Now that may be an uncomfortable thing to deal with for people but that’s how the world was then.’
His sister-in-law, model and TV star Kirsty Gallacher, initially appeared to be in support of Brand, who is married to her younger sister Laura.
She shared his video to her Instagram story with a huge red love heart – but just a few hours after the full investigation was published the post, which remains up for 24 hours, had disappeared.
However, famous names from the British comedy circuit appeared to distance themselves from Brand.
Mock of the Week presenter Jo Caulfield took to X this morning, writing: ‘In whatever industry you work in, keep speaking out.
‘Predatory behaviour and abuse is wrong…. It’s a tragic and age old story and it has to stop.’
Meanwhile, British comedian Sofie Hagen also spoke out against alleged lurid behaviour within the industry.
She wrote: ‘In my current show, I briefly talk about a comedian who was once preying on a 16 year old girl AND IT WASN’T EVEN RUSSELL BRAND. It was ANOTHER ONE.
‘The internet is flooded with statistics and examples of what happens to victims who report sexual assault or people that speak out against predators, so if it bugs you that we all keep talking about unnamed predators, then know, it probably bugs us too that they’re unnamed.’
And comic Dom Joly wrote: ‘The amount of people defending Russell Brand, slagging off the women involved and believing that this is all because Brand is some ‘threat to the Matrix’ is pure Trumpism and deeply, deeply depressing…’
Russell Brand’s comments in full:
Hello there you awakening wonders. Now this is not the usual type of video we make on this channel where we critique, attack and undermine the news in all its corruption because in this story I am the news.
I have received two extremely disturbing letters – or a letter and an email – one from a mainstream media TV company, one from a newspaper listing a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks, as well as some pretty stupid stuff, like my community festival should be stopped and I shouldn’t be able to attack mainstream media narratives on this channel.
But amidst this litany of astonishing rather baroque attacks are some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute. These allegations pertain to a time when I was in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies, and as I’ve written about extensively in my books I was very, very promiscuous.
During that time of promiscuity the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual. I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent, and I am being transparent about it now as well.
And to see that transparency metastasized into something criminal that I absolutely deny makes me question is there another agenda at play.
Particularly when we have seen coordinated media attacks before, like Joe Rogan where he dared to take a medicine the mainstream media didn’t approve of and we saw a spate of headlines of media outlets around the world using the same language.
I am aware that you guys in the comments have been for a while saying ‘watch out Russell, they’re coming for you,’ ‘you are getting too close to the truth’, ‘Russell Brand did not kill himself’.’
I know a year ago there was a spate of articles: Russell Brand is a conspiracy theorists; Russell Brand is right wing.
I am aware of newspapers making phone calls, sending letters to people I know. For ages and ages, it’s been clear to me or at least feels to be there’s a serious and consorted agenda to control these kinds of spaces and these kind of voices.
I need my voice along with your voice. I don’t mind them using my books and my stand up to talk about my promiscuous sexual conduct in the past. What I seriously refute are these very, very serious, criminal allegations.
Also its worth mentioning that there are witnesses whose evidence directly contradicts the narratives that these two mainstream media outlets are trying to construct, apparently in what seems to be to me a coordinated attack.
Now, I don’t want to get into this any further because of the serious nature of the allegations but I feel like I’m being attacked and plainly they are working very closely together.
We are obviously going to look into this matter because it is very, very serious.
In the meantime, I want you to stay close, stay awake but more importantly than any of that, if you can stay free.