Dame Caroline Dinenage, the chairwoman of the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, has faced criticism for writing letters to social media platforms and GB News regarding the monetization of Russell Brand, who was accused of rape but not charged with a crime. Brand, a comedian and political commentator with millions of subscribers on YouTube, was demonetized by the platform following the allegations. Dame Caroline has written to social media platforms and GB News, asking whether Brand was earning money through them. GB News and Rumble defended free speech and due process in their responses to Dame Caroline’s letters. The letters have sparked backlash from social media users and free speech advocates, with some calling for Dame Caroline’s resignation.
Four anonymous women recently accused Brand of rape, sexual assault, and indecent exposure between 2006 and 2013 in a joint investigation by The Times of London, The Sunday Times, and Channel 4’s “Dispatches” program. Brand denied the allegations in a video released prior to their publication. The Metropolitan police received a report of a sexual assault alleged to have occurred in 2003. YouTube demonetized Brand’s channels in line with its previous actions against channels associated with sexual misconduct allegations.
Dame Caroline wrote letters to broadcasters and social media platforms, expressing concern over presenter Beverley Turner defending Brand and suggesting it undermined impartiality rules. She also mentioned another GB News host, Dan Wootton, who had been accused of sexual misconduct. GB News responded by stating that none of the allegations against the two individuals had been proven and that their coverage followed Ofcom regulations. Dame Caroline also wrote to Rumble, X, Facebook, and TikTok, asking whether they planned to suspend Brand’s ability to monetize his content.
TikTok responded to the letter, stating that Brand had never been part of its monetization program and that its guidelines prohibit individuals convicted of sexual crimes or serious offenses against minors from holding an account. Rumble, a platform that promotes free speech, published a statement opposing Parliament’s attempt to control speech and earning potential. The statement emphasized that the recent allegations against Brand were unrelated to Rumble’s platform and expressed the platform’s commitment to a free internet.
Critics, such as Alan Miller from civil rights campaign group Together, expressed shock at the suggestion that Brand should be demonetized based solely on allegations. Comedian Francis Foster described the letter to Rumble as a way to turn every person on the platform into a conspiracy theorist. Some users have called for Dame Caroline’s resignation on social media. Benjamin Jones from the Free Speech Union stated that there was no reason for an MP to intervene in such a case and that involving MPs in demonetization before due process is concerning and sets a difficult precedent.