Russell Brand

The Sunday Times and The Times

Even before the Sunday Times, Times and Channel 4 Dispatches published our investigation in to allegations of rape, sexual abuse and controlling behaviour by Russell Brand it had become the most anticipated story of the year.

This was the scoop that many media organisations had tried to break before, but failed - hampered by legal threats or by the challenges of running a complicated investigation like this.

 When we did publish it drew millions of extra readers and viewers to The Times website and Channel 4 and was followed up around the world. It was still leading Britain’s news agenda 10 days later.

 It demonstrates how high-quality journalism can expose alleged abuses of power and failures within huge organisations.

The investigation spanned three years, with reporters contacting more than 500 sources on three continents, speaking to friends and family of the comedian and the victims, people who worked for him or attended events he had been at, plus people working in the comedy, TV and film industries.

We analysed his auto-biographies, watched and listened to hundreds of hours of his comedy sets, radio shows, TV appearances and internet shows, and went undercover at his wellness festival and stand-up shows.

At the heart of the investigation though were the core allegations of the women. We interviewed them several times over, then extensively corroborated times, places, documents and details, before working with our lawyers to build up a robust case in the event of a range of possible legal scenarios and also preparing extensive right of replies to Brand and others.

After right to replies went out, rumours swirled for a few days about a major investigation into an unnamed celebrity. Then Brand published a denial video into unnamed allegations the night before our planned publication.

 Despite demands from commentators for us to publish immediately, we held our nerve to deliver the package of stories at 4pm on the Saturday - as well as the main investigation (which broke all internal records for reader numbers), we had a video outlining the journalism that went in to standing up the story, and a profile (both massively read), plus a breaking news bulletin on Times Radio, with Dispatches showing at 9pm. 

 Over the next three days we followed this up with a podcast episode, full interviews with the main victims, plus broke news of Brand’s alleged use of BBC cars to transport young women to his home.

Russell Brand had been accused of being a sexual abuser hiding in plain sight, and many media outlets had tried and failed to expose this before - confronted by either legal threats or the challenges of standing up a story like this.

There is now an ongoing police investigation pursuing more allegations against him, plus internal investigations at the BBC and Channel 4.