YouTube has cut off the flow of money to Russell Brand’s account after the Times of London reported that four women had accused the actor and comedian of rape and sexual assault. The move comes just after the BBC pulled a variety of programming featuring the disgraced star.
Brand developed a cult following on the internet for inflammatory conspiracy theory and wellness content, amassing a following on YouTube of 6.6 million subscribers. The actor treated his audience to an increasingly right-wing type of “just asking questions” monologue on topics including vaccine misinformation, politics, and current events, as well as his thoughts on relationships, spirituality and more.
“We have suspended monetization on Russell Brand’s channel for violating our Creator Responsibility policy,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “If a creator’s off-platform behavior harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community.”
The investigation featured interviews with a number of women, including one who said her sexual relationship with Brand started when she was 16-years-old, accusing him of rape and emotional abuse.“Russell engaged in the behaviours of a groomer, looking back, but I didn’t even know what that was then, or what that looked like,” the woman, who was not identified, told The Times.
Brand took to his YouTube channel to deny the charges. He said the allegations came from a time when he was “very, very promiscuous” but his relationships were “absolutely always consensual.” Brand went on to suggest that the story is just another conspiracy. He suggested “they” were coming after him for “getting too close to the truth,” and said the story forced him to question whether “there is another agenda at play.” Representatives for Brand did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The BBC removed some but not all content featuring Brand that was “deemed to ‘fall below public expectations.’” The actor still has a great deal of content on other platforms that haven’t announced any changes to their business relationships with Brand, including Spotify. Spotify did not respond to a request for comment.
A number of prominent figures popular amongst conservatives and the fringe of the internet have come to Brand’s defense, including Elon Musk, Tucker Carlson, and Andrew Tate. Brand reportedly canceled some upcoming comedy shows and was dropped by his management company following the allegations.