Turning a blind eye? | Russell Brand allegations - Months after Schofield case, have TV bosses failed in their duty of care again?

Russell Brand allegations - Months after Schofield case, have TV bosses failed in their duty of care again?

Just months after the Philip Schofield scandal, TV bosses have shown they have failed again in their duty of care as allegations against Russell Brand continue to mount.

Those are the thoughts of an employment law expert who has spoken out several HR red flags in the wake of the news about the comedian.

The BBC said it was "urgently looking into the issues" raised by allegations of sexual assault made against the broadcaster's former employee, British comedian and actor Russell Brand, who denies the accusations.

The Times and documentary show Dispatches reported that the alleged incidents had taken place between 2006 and 2013 and said one woman had made an allegation of rape, while another said Brand assaulted her when she was 16 and still at school.

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Brand, 48, worked on BBC radio programmes between 2006 and 2008.

He issued a denial on Saturday to unspecified "very serious criminal allegations" hours before the accusations of sexual assaults, including rape, were published online by the Sunday Times and later aired on Channel 4.

A BBC spokesperson said in a statement: "The documentary and associated reports contained serious allegations, spanning a number of years. Russell Brand worked on BBC radio programmes between 2006 and 2008 and we are urgently looking into the issues raised."

Banijay UK, the production company behind a television show once hosted by Brand, said it had launched "an urgent internal investigation".

"In light of the very serious allegations raised by Dispatches and The Times/Sunday Times investigation relating to the alleged serious misconduct of Russell Brand while presenting shows produced by Endemol in 2004 and 2005, Banijay UK has launched an urgent internal investigation," it said.

Women's charity Trevi, which helps women affected by violence and abuse, said it had ended its association with Brand, and Tavistock Wood, a talent agency, said in a statement it "has terminated all professional ties to Brand".

"Russell Brand categorically and vehemently denied the allegation made in 2020, but we now believe we were horribly misled by him," it said.

London's Metropolitan Police said it had not received any reports in relation to the allegations.

"If anyone believes they have been the victim of a sexual assault, no matter how long ago it happened, we would encourage them to contact the police," the police said in a statement.

'Months after Schofield case, TV bosses have failed in their duty of care again'...

Jim Moore, employee relations expert at HR consultants Hamilton Nash, said: “The suggestion that leaders within the TV industry chose to move women employees away from Russell Brand to keep them safe is one of the many disturbing parts of this story.

“Employees shuffled away in this manner could reasonably argue that they suffered sexual discrimination, as presumably no male workers were impacted in this way.

“It also suggests that some people knew about these concerns and tried to sweep it under the carpet rather than attempt to protect the alleged victims.

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“If bosses had reasonable grounds to believe – on the balance of probability – that there was a problem here, they've failed in their duty of care to employees.

“These events are alleged to have taken place some years ago, but you would hope that HR professionals would be consulted and a full investigation launched if this were to happen now.

“It is only a few months since ITV bosses were accused of ignoring Philip Schofield’s behaviour, and now the BBC and Channel 4 have questions to answer. 

“Turning a blind eye to rumours of unacceptable behaviour in the workplace is never the correct course of action, and can have serious consequences for leadership.”

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