Sunday, 23 June

Russell Brand accuses government of bypassing judicial process to censor him on social media

Movie and social media star Russell Brand

Russell Brand has accused the government of trying to "bypass" the judicial system after his YouTube channel was demonetised in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against him.

In a livestream video on the Rumble platform, the comedian also accused the "legacy media" of being in "lockstep" with each other to "support a state agenda" and "silence independent media voices".

It comes after four women made allegations of rape, sexual assault and abuse against the star between 2006 and 2013 as part of an investigation by The Times, The Sunday Times and Channel 4's Dispatches.

Another woman, speaking to Sky News, alleged Brand "ripped holes" in her tights and "refused to call her a taxi until she performed a sex act".

The Metropolitan Police says it has begun an investigation after receiving a number of sexual offence claims relating to London and elsewhere in the UK following media reports about the comedian.

The 48-year-old denies all the allegations against him, says all his relationships were consensual, and he has not been charged with any criminal offences.

Speaking in his livestream, entitled "Are we being silenced? The battle for free speech", he said: "You know I've been demonetised on YouTube. You are aware that the government wrote to social media platforms to demand that I be further censored.

"In a sense, the bypassing of judicial process, right to punitive measures, financial ones, seems like an interesting stance for a government minister to be suggesting to a big tech platform."

Taking aim at the government, "legacy media" and big tech platforms, he said: "What we appear to be looking at here are a set of collaborating institutions that have an agenda, and pursue that agenda, even when in pursuing it they have to bypass, obstruct, or absolutely ignore existing judicial or regulatory bodies by moving straight to punitive measures."

Rumble refuses to demonetise Brand

Before the first allegations were published, Brand published a video insisting his relationships had always been consensual.

On Friday, he released a second clip on Rumble in which he claimed the British government had "asked big tech platforms to censor our online content".

YouTube, owned by Google, demonetised Brand's channel in the wake of the allegations against him.

However, Rumble, a video site popular with some conservatives and far-right groups, has not demonetised Brand.