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The questions raised by the Russell Brand allegations  

Welcome to Monday’s Early Edition from i.

He was once seen as the darling of the left. Russell Brand has had a tumultuous career trajectory – from comedian on the fringes, to Hollywood star, to a cult-like social media figure promoting wellness retreats and peddling conspiracy theories. But now, after years of investigation by journalists, he is facing serious accusations of sexual assault, rape and emotional abuse over a seven-year period.

Mr Brand released a video on YouTube ahead of the publication of the investigation, in which he explained that he was facing “some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute”, and said all of his relationships had been “consensual”. If you haven’t read the full story, you can do so here or here.

Since the allegations were raised, Channel 4 and a production company have launched separate internal investigations and the BBC says it is “urgently” looking into the issues. Today, more questions will be asked about what was known at the time. We’ll take a look at who is asking what, after the headlines.

Today’s news, and why it matters

Trade unions are warning of thousands of job cuts across local councils as authorities attempt to avoid bankruptcy. As well as tens of millions in cuts to local services, authorities across England are now looking to redundancies and a pause on filling vacancies to make up millions more. Onay Kasab, for the Unite union, told i: “We are certainly looking at thousands of job cuts in local government.”

Hospital volunteers are being moved to A&E departments to calm patients who may feel forgotten about during an unprecedented round of joint strikes by junior doctors and consultants this week. A senior medic told i that further delays to routine care would inevitably push many patients into needing emergency treatment because they would not be able to cope with their symptoms the longer they are forced to wait.

Keir Starmer has said he will be seeking a rewritten Brexit deal that would mean a closer trading relationship with the EU if Labour wins the next election. Speaking to the Financial Times, the Labour leader said: “Almost everyone recognises the deal [Boris] Johnson struck is not a good deal – it’s far too thin. As we go into 2025 we will attempt to get a much better deal for the UK.”

Nearly every council in England could raise council tax by the maximum amount from next April as many cash-strapped local authorities face unprecedented funding gaps, i can reveal. A rise of almost 5 per cent across England would add £103 to the average council tax bill, with the Band D charge increasing to around £2,168 a year.

Exeter Airport was closed on Sunday after an unusual amount of rain caused flash flooding. Cars were trapped on roads and Exeter Airport has cancelled its remaining flights. Videos posted on social media showed a flooded main terminal. An airport spokesperson said they expected it to reopen today.

Disposable vapes could still be given to smokers to help them quit cigarettes, despite the Government drawing up plans to ban them, i understands. Ministers are understood to be finalising plans to ban single-use vapes amid concerns they have sparked an epidemic of youth vaping across Britain, with a decision set to come as early as next week.

Four questions in the aftermath of the Russell Brand allegations:

Are police investigating? The Metropolitan Police says they have not received any police reports so far, but encouraged potential victims to come forward. They said in a statement: “We are aware of media reporting of a series of allegations of sexual assault. At this time, we have not received any reports in relation to this. 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 police. We spoke with The Sunday Times on Saturday, 16 September. We will be making further approaches to The Sunday Times and Channel 4 to ensure that any victims of crime who they have spoken with are aware of how they may report any criminal allegations to police.” Read the full story here.

What is happening at the media companies Russell Brand worked for? Big questions have been raised about accountability at the media companies for whom Mr Brand worked, after The Times and the Dispatches investigation claimed the star’s attitude towards women was an open secret in the media industry. The claims include that TV bosses suggested female staff were taken off the production crew of one of his projects to protect them and that a former “runner” had been asked to collect the phone numbers of female audience members for him. As Anne McElvoy notes: “The story does raise testing questions for the British broadcasters (as well as the Hollywood studios) who made contracts with him and who, on the evidence presented, had good reason to be more proactive than simply relying on the tired old excuse that, as no one complained in writing, they could not possibly have suspected anything was potentially amiss. (Read her full piece here.) Channel 4 said it has launched an internal investigation into the matter. Banijay UK, the owner of Endemol, which produced Big Brother spin-offs EFourum and Big Mouth, which were presented by Mr Brand in the early 2000s, also confirmed it had launched its own probe into claims about the comedian and actor. So far the BBC, for whom Mr Brand worked primarily on radio programmes, said it was “urgently looking into the issues raised”. Read the full story here.

Will MPs get involved? On Sunday, Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairwoman, Dame Caroline Dinenage, said MPs would be “closely monitoring” the response to the allegations. Labour MP Stella Creasy, who is currently standing to be the new chair of the Commons Standards Committee, said the case raised fresh questions about the way powerful institutions respond to allegations of sexual misconduct. She told i: “Part of why I am standing for chair of standards is that so many institutions wait for complaints to see if they have a problem rather than tackling the culture that creates them. The bookers who said: ‘It’s what talent does’ are like the senior parliamentarians who have told women not to complain for the sake of their careers.” She added: “I have no doubt Channel 4 will find a sacrificial head to roll, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still happening or going to keep happening.” Read the full story here.

Is Mr Brand’s career over? Far from it, argues Daniel Bates, who writes: “Quite the opposite may be true in the twisted world of conspiracy theories he now operates in. Brand has already signalled his defence and it’s straight out of the playbook of Donald Trump: they’re coming after me because I’m telling you the truth. In his YouTube video denying the allegations, Brand said that his fans had been telling him for a while: “Watch out, Russell. They’re coming from you.” Read Daniel’s full piece here.

Russell Brand (Photo: Getty)

 Around the world

Alexander Litvinenko’s wife says the Russian agent wanted for his murder should confess before cancer kills him. Marina Litvinenko says that if Andrey Lugovoy really is seriously ill, it isn’t too late for him to confess. “The best thing for him would be to make a statement saying everything he knows and send it to me or the police… It’s time for his testimony, for him to write down what he did,” she tells i.

The sea-ice surrounding Antarctica is well below any previous recorded winter level, satellite data shows. “It’s so far outside anything we’ve seen; it’s almost mind-blowing,” Walter Meier, who monitors sea-ice with the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, told the BBC.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has warned that there is no clear end in sight to the war in Ukraine. “Most wars last longer than expected when they begin, therefore we must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine,” he said. “We are all wishing for a quick peace but, at the same time, we must recognise that if President Zelensky and the Ukrainians stop fighting, their country will no longer exist.”

Observers of the search and rescue effort in Derna, Libya, say the warlord Khalifa Haftar and his sons are using the disaster response as a way to exert control rather than ensure vital humanitarian relief reaches civilians.

The United Nations World Heritage Committee has voted to list the Tell es-Sultan archaeological site in Jericho as a “World Heritage Site in Palestine”, a decision welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, but which has attracted ire from Israel.

 Watch out for…

 Liz Truss, who is expected to use a speech this morning to defend the decisions made by her Government and to urge Rishi Sunak to cut taxes, shrink welfare spending and raise the retirement age. 

 Thoughts for the day

Trial by media is sometimes the only course of action – as seen with Russell Brand. Here is a reminder of the importance of diligent journalism in a world filled with froth, misinformation and trash, writes Ian Birrell.

20mph speed limits will save lives – angry motorists should get a grip. If a reduction to 20mph from 30mph really will reduce collisions by 40 per cent and save 10 lives per year, what’s the objection, asks Stefano Hatfield.

Allow me to clear up some confusion about Millie Bobby Brown’s debut novel. Brown’s novel was ghostwritten by an author whose name does not appear on the cover, explains Lucy Mangan.

Millie Bobby Brown speaks at Osaka Comic Con 2023 (Photo: 2023 Jun Sato)

 Culture Break

‘I don’t agree with Gary Lineker about the BBC’. As he releases his memoir, Clive Myrie talks to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown about how his family got caught in the Windrush scandal, BBC impartiality and the newsroom without Huw Edwards.

In his memoir, Clive Myrie delves into his career and upbringing and also shares his personal views and passions (Photo: Sophia Spring)

 The Big Read

Colin had a transfusion to help him, but it gave him Aids. I spent 17 years meeting the blood scandal victims. More than 2,800 people in the UK are known to have died after receiving contaminated blood, which was meant to save them but instead gave them a deadly illness. Investigative journalist Caroline Wheeler has been following their stories for decades.

Colin Smith was just seven when he died of AIDS in January 1990 (Photo: Supplied)


Man City’s new generation of superstars spell bad news for the Premier League title race. In Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku, Manchester City have a pair of lethal weapons who can lead their attack for years to come, writes George Simms.

Jeremy Doku (R) celebrates with Julian Alvarez (L) after scoring his first goal for Manchester City (Photo: AP)

 Something to brighten your day

Easy way to reduce hunger pangs throughout the day (and stop fridge grazing). From smart snacking to overnight fasting, nutritionists told Rosie Fitzmaurice eight ways we can reduce hunger pangs without going hungry.

Snacking late into the evening is associated with poor health outcomes (Photo: Super Images/The Image Bank RF/Getty)

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