As the comedian Russell Brand was accused this weekend of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse, the spotlight fell on a man whose career has taken him from television presenter, to Hollywood star, to populist pundit, to wellness influencer and conspiracy theorist. All of his roles have been well documented. But largely out of the spotlight for the six years of their marriage has been his wife Laura Brand, nee Gallacher – the mother of their two young daughters.
At the time of writing Laura has yet to comment publicly on the claims. Her older sister Kirsty Gallacher, the former Sky Sports presenter, reposted Brand’s video statement in which he denied the allegations. She now appears to have deleted that repost.
So who is Brand’s wife, and what kind of life has she shared with the man whose career was built on a wild, promiscuous persona, and who now faces grave claims made by several women?
Laura Brand, a 36-year-old author and illustrator, is the daughter of Bernard Gallacher, a Scottish professional golfer. She, Kirsty and their brother Jamie grew up on the Wentworth Estate in Surrey. (By contrast, Russell describes himself as “just a bloke from Essex from a single-parent family.”) Laura first dated Russell, briefly, when she was aged 19 and he was in his early 30s, after Kirsty introduced them.
Almost a decade went by before they got back together. It was 2015, and Laura’s ex-partner had just moved out. “A friend dragged me out on a walk to the canal in east London, where I’d never been in my life, and as we came on to the footpath Russell was standing there, like he’d organised it,” she once told Grazia magazine.
“Laura was besotted, and she wanted to mend him,” a friend told the Daily Mail this week. “What Russell did was firmly in the past, way before he and Laura met.”
They got back together. The Hollywood star, who had formerly been married to Katy Perry, and who had made no secret of his prolific sexual past, told her he wanted a quiet life and a family.
“He was so different. We both immediately knew it was going to be serious,” she told the Made by Mammas podcast, explaining how they rebuilt their trust slowly, getting to know each other and going on day trips.
A year after reigniting their relationship, she and Russell moved into a thatched house in Henley on Thames. Their daughter Mabel was born in November 2016, and in 2017, they were married in a small, private ceremony aboard a mock paddle steamer in Henley, with friends including Noel Gallagher and Fearne Cotton. Another daughter, Peggy, arrived in July 2018. The couple are expecting a third child.
Interviewed by The Telegraph last October, Laura painted a picture of content domesticity. They enjoyed date nights with a takeaway atop their canal boat, moored at the bottom of their garden, she said. They are animal lovers – Russell is vegan and so are the children – and own an extensive menagerie of animals: piglets, chickens, cats. They both enjoy meditation, with Laura saying her husband “meditates twice a day, morning and evening, without fail for 20 minutes; it’s the biggest part of his self-care routine”. She said her husband was “extremely creative” but admitted she was often “like his playschool teacher”.
If it was hard to picture Russell, dressed in his trademark tight leather, bending over the nappy-changing table, it was not an image he tried to cultivate either. In a Sunday Times interview in 2019, he admitted leaving a large part of the parenting to Laura, focusing more on his daughters’ “beauty and grace” than the practical aspects of childcare. He had a “romantic, reflective, religious world view” and was too sensitive to change nappies, he explained. Laura subsequently defended him, insisting he was “always hands on”.
Fortunately for her, changing nappies seemed to spark her own creativity. She told The Telegraph last year how motherhood had helped her rediscover that part of herself. This she successfully channelled into a series of books published from 2020: The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play (a collection of 50 activities designed to “encourage a connection to nature, sense of joy and bonding with your kids, while nurturing your own inner child”); The Joy Journal for Grown-ups (which “invites you to experiment, play and unlock your creative potential with a range of simple crafts”); and Slow Down and Be Here Now: More Nature Stories to Make you Stop, Look and Be Amazed by the Tiniest Things.
She posts regularly on her Facebook account, The Joy Journal, though her husband is largely absent – popping up once in a post about a community wellness festival in Hay-On-Wye in July, and again in a post from last March advertising a bookshop event: “Laura & Russell Brand in conversation,” to celebrate her latest book.
So what direction will Laura’s career will take following the allegations her husband now faces. Russell Brand stands accused of rape, sexual assaults and emotional abuse said to have been carried out between 2006 and 2013, following a joint investigation by The Sunday Times, The Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches. He denies them and says his relationships were all consensual. Laura’s Instagram account appears to have been deleted.
One marketing expert warns of the challenge facing a spouse in the public eye if their partner’s name and reputation becomes tarnished. “Especially if they’re professional in their own right, they need to tread a very difficult line between being supportive to their partner and preserving their own reputation,” says Allyson Stewart-Allen, founding chief executive of International Marketing Partners.
What would she advise someone in Laura’s position? “I would say she needs to keep [her own career] going and make it clear she’s not responsible for his actions, she has agency of her own and that the truth will come out. It isn’t guilt by association.”
Laura Brand has said her husband “calls me 100 per cent the boss” when it comes to parenting and that she was “learning to be less controlling”.
Now, in a situation completely out of her control, she will no doubt be wondering, anxiously, what the future holds for their family.