LONDON (Reuters) -British police said on Monday they had launched an investigation into a number of allegations of non-recent sexual offences following media reports that four women had accused actor and comedian Russell Brand of a string of sexual assaults.
Earlier this month, the Sunday Times newspaper and Channel 4 TV's documentary show "Dispatches" reported the women had accused Brand, 48, of sex offences, including a rape, between 2006 and 2013.
Brand has rejected the "very serious criminal allegations", saying on his social media channels that he had never had non-consensual sex.
"Following an investigation by Channel 4's Dispatches and The Sunday Times, the Met has received a number of allegations of sexual offences in London," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
"We have also received a number of allegations of sexual offences committed elsewhere in the country and will investigate these."
Police declined to give details of the dates, the number of incidents, or the details of the offences under investigation.
However last week, in wake of the reports, the police did say they had received an allegation of a sexual assault reported to have taken place in Soho, central London, in 2003.
"We continue to encourage anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a sexual offence, no matter how long ago it was, to contact us," said Detective Superintendent Andy Furphy, who is leading the investigation.
Since the allegations were first published and broadcast, British media have detailed other accounts by women alleging inappropriate behaviour by Brand, the former husband of U.S. singer Katy Perry and once one of the country's most high-profile comedians and broadcasters.
It also led to his promoters announcing the remaining dates of a stand-up tour he was on had been postponed, while YouTube said last Tuesday it had blocked Brand from making money from his online channel.
Brand accused "big tech", the government and mainstream media of trying to shut down independent voices when he started his regular broadcast on Monday on the online video site Rumble, where he has 1.6 million followers.
"I now, in particular, have a new experience on the way that the media and the state can cooperate and corroborate one another's narratives and stories," he said, although he made no direct reference to the assault allegations.
"I am beginning to sense that if you publicly question important stories that are agenda-led like, for example, the war in Ukraine or the response to the COVID pandemic then it appears there is some significant heft behind controlling those narrative spaces."
Canadian-based platform Rumble has rejected calls from British lawmakers, among others to stop Brand, who has starred in a number of films such as "Get Him to the Greek", from making money from the site.
(Reporting by Muvija M, Andrew MacAskill and Michael Holden; Editing by William James and Alex Richardson)