In September, Brand, 48, was accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by four women as part of a joint investigation by The Times, The Sunday Times, and Channel 4’s Dispatches. He has strongly denied all allegations, stating that all of his sexual relationships were consensual.
In 2022, Canadian comic Ryan told Louis Theroux about an incident in which she called out a male co-star on a TV set for alleged sexual abuse. According to reports, Ryan left Brand furious when she called him a “sexual predator” while filming Comedy Central’s Roast Battle.
On Sunday (1 October), Ryan was the guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, when she was asked about the interview with Theroux where she first made the allegations known.
“I got a lot of pushback, like, ‘Why won’t you say who it is?’” recalled Ryan, who once again did not name Brand. “It’s because everyone knows who it is. What they’re asking me for is the women’s names. And that’s what I won’t give and that’s why I was reluctant to talk about it.”
Host Lauren Laverne then asked Ryan: “Because it was another comic, right?”
Ryan replied: “There are a few women’s names that I think investigators are looking for and that’s what they’re asking me for. No one’s asking me for his name. So it’s funny how people go straight to accusing, ‘You are the problem. You won’t give his name.’ We’re not the problem.”
She continued: “I had a choice. I could go to work with someone whom I believe to be a perpetrator of sexual assault, or I could turn down the job. Those were my options. And so I wrestled with that.
“I thought, what am I meant to do in this instance? Am I meant to go and be near someone that I think these things about? ... The choice is, do I go to work with someone who I think is very problematic and do I stand near them and laugh and smile and look like I am allowing this kind of person to still be on television, or do I stay home?”
Ryan said that she found the decision “really difficult”, adding: “That’s what I wrestled with the most. Because I believe that this person was or is dangerous, but also what am I going to change if I stay home? ... My compromise was, alright, I’m gonna go, but I’m going to let him know under no uncertain terms what I think of him. I’m not gonna just smile and look like I’m allowing this behaviour.”
Asked how Brand responded to her comments at the time, the comedian said that “he certainly didn’t have an obvious reaction”.
The Independent has contacted Brand’s representatives for comment.
During the 2022 interview with Theroux, Ryan said that she believed the man she called out to be a “perpetrator of sexual assault”, but that even discussing it was “a litigious minefield”. She also stressed that the allegations were “not my story to tell” as “no one has perpetrated any sexual assaults against me”.
Following the extensive reporting about Brand in September, Deadline reported that Ryan allegedly called him a “sexual predator” repeatedly during filming for the first series of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle in 2018. According to the report, which cited multiple sources, Brand was furious and quit the show after six episodes. The alleged predator remarks were not aired.
Following the allegations against Brand, programmes starring the presenter were subsequently removed from the BBC and Channel 4’s streaming services. He was then blocked from making advertising revenue on his YouTube Channel.
On Monday (25 September), the Metropolitan Police announced it had opened an investigation into a “number of allegations of sexual offences” it had received against Brand in London and elsewhere in the country.
If you have information in relation to the allegations against Russell Brand that you would like to share with The Independent’s reporting team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk.
If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)