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British comedian Russell Brand. Image Credit: AP

A senior British politician on September 18 urged police to investigate sexual assault allegations against Russell Brand, as entertainment industry figures faced questions about whether the comedian’s bad behaviour went unchallenged because of his fame.

Brand denies allegations of sexual assault made by four women in a Channel 4 television documentary and ‘The Times’ and ‘Sunday Times’ newspapers. The accusers, who have not been named, include one who said she was sexually assaulted during a relationship with him when she was 16. Another woman says Brand raped her in Los Angeles in 2012.

Brand, 48, has rejected all the claims, saying in a video statement that his relationships were “always consensual”.

‘The Times’ said on Sept. 18 that more women had contacted the newspaper with allegations against Brand and they would be “rigorously checked”.

Conservative legislator Caroline Nokes, who chairs the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, urged police in both Britain and the US to investigate the “incredibly shocking” allegations.

“This merits and needs a criminal investigation, because for too long we have seen men — and the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes are almost invariably men — not being held to account for their behaviours and their actions,” she told BBC radio.

London’s Metropolitan Police force said it would speak to the ‘Sunday Times’ and ‘Channel 4’ to ensure “any victims of crime who they have spoken with are aware of how they may report any criminal allegations to police”.

The claims have renewed debate about the “lad culture” that flourished in Britain in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the misogyny that still percolates on the internet.

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British comedian and actor Russell Brand. Image Credit: AFP

The allegations reported by the newspapers and Channel 4 cover the period between 2006 and 2013, when Brand was a major star in Britain with a growing US profile.

Known for his unbridled and risqué standup routines, he hosted shows on radio and television, wrote memoirs charting his battles with substance abuse, appeared in several Hollywood movies and was briefly married to pop star Katy Perry between 2010 and 2012.

Brand was suspended by the BBC in 2008 for making lewd prank calls to ‘Fawlty Towers’ actor Andrew Sachs. He quit his radio show in the wake of the incident, which drew thousands of complaints to the publicly funded broadcaster.

The BBC, Channel 4 and the production company behind the ‘Big Brother’ reality series — spin-offs of which were hosted by Brand — all say they have launched investigations into Brand’s behaviour and how complaints were handled.

In recent years Brand has largely disappeared from mainstream media but has built up a large following online with videos mixing wellness and conspiracy theories. His YouTube channel, which has more than 6 million subscribers, includes Covid-19 conspiracies, vaccine misinformation and interviews with right-wing broadcasters, including Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan.

He also continues to tour as a comedian, performing to hundreds of people in a London venue on Saturday evening as the Channel 4 documentary was broadcast.