In the wake of the allegations of rape and sexual assault that have been made against UK actor and comedian Russell Brand while working on BBC, Channel 4 and Banijay UK productions, Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA) and Time’s Up UK have released statements highlighting the “need for critical intervention” in the UK entertainment industries.
CIISA is an organisation led by Creative UK and Time’s Up UK which aims to tackle bullying and harassment. It has received financial backing from leading UK broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky.
It is headed by interim CEO Jen Smith, the BFI’s director of culture and inclusion, who was seconded in September of 2022 to lead what was then called the Independent Standards Authority.
The proposed CIISA plans to go-live by the end of 2024.
CIISA said in a statement: “The establishment of an independent body for the creative industries, CIISA, is now in advanced discussions with the creative sectors in the UK. CIISA is currently developing its services and structure, which will give individuals working in the creative industries a trusted place to go for mediation, seek advice, dispute resolution and crucially, investigation. CIISA is now moving into preparation ahead of going live and further announcements will be made shortly.
“The creative industries is one of the only sectors that does not have an independent place to confidentially raise concerns about behaviour. The news this weekend further underlines the need for this critical intervention. There are no legal or technical impediments to building CIISA. It is simply about collective will.”
Time’s Up UK added: “Time’s Up UK, which has campaigned to improve standards of behaviour across film and TV over these last five years, called for the creation of an independent standards authority back in 2021. Since then Time’s Up UK has spearheaded this initiative supported by the Creative Industries round table set up by the then secretary of state in the wake of yet further media stories about the abuse that [singer/songwriter and X Factor contestant] Rebecca Ferguson suffered.
”The proposed Creative Industries Standards Authority, CIISA, will cover film, television, music and theatre. To date all of the key stakeholders have and are supporting this crucial intervention. These latest disclosures add yet more urgency to the need for CIISA.”
Head of UK entertainment industries’ union Bectu Philippa Childs has also written to UK broadcasters and Pact “to express deep concern on behalf of Bectu members at the revelations relating to Russell Brand’s behaviour”. In a statement, Childs endorsed the need for CIISA’s formation:
“These reports are deeply troubling and, along with a number of recent examples, are a stark reminder that sexual harassment remains a scourge on the creative sector. Reports that crew members had highlighted inappropriate workplace conduct many years ago are all the more concerning.
“In a sector where power imbalances are particularly extreme, it’s critical that victims can have confidence that their allegations will be taken seriously, investigated and dealt with swiftly, and perpetrators held to account.
“However, what we are seeing time and again is historical complaints and allegations coming to light, often regarding high-profile perpetrators acting in plain sight. It is clear that helplines and other measures that broadcasters frequently point to are woefully inadequate in dealing with complaints, particularly those levelled at people in positions of power. While we welcome the internal investigations launched by the BBC, Channel 4 and Banijay UK, current policies and procedures are clearly not fit for purpose.
“The need for an independent standards authority is clear and urgent. Broadcasters, production companies and studios must put their money where their mouth is and get behind the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority.
“How many more incidents must come to light before broadcasters commit to taking real and meaningful action? No-one, however senior or powerful, should be above proper scrutiny. Production companies and broadcasters must take a much more proactive, leading role in ensuring the sector is a safe, mentally healthy and respectful place to work for everyone, including freelancers and behind the scenes workers.”
The BBC, Channel 4 and production company Banijay UK have launched investigations into the behaviour of Brand while working on their programmes between 2006 and 2013. Brand also starred in Hollywood films including Get Him To The Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as well as UK and Ireland-produced indie title Four Kids And It. Allegations were made public by four women in a joint investigation by UK broadsheet The Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme.
Since the show aired on Saturday night (September 16), more women have come forward with accusations against Brand, including a then 16-year-old who told BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour that she was groomed and sexually assaulted by then 30-year-old Brand, and that the BBC sent a car to take her from school to Brand’s home.
Brand claimed in a video published online the relationships were “always consensual”.