A woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by Russell Brand was prevented from talking about the case when he obtained a gagging order.
The alleged victim went to police following an incident at Brand’s home in 2014 but the case was dropped.
When the woman attempted to highlight her claims in the media and with other organisations, Brand obtained an injunction banning her from speaking out on the grounds of harassment.
The woman, who now lives abroad, could be jailed for contempt of court if she breaches the strict court order.
She attempted to appeal against the ruling but her application was dismissed and she was later ordered to pay £50,000 in legal costs.
Brand has been accused of rape, sexual assault and abuse by women between 2006 and 2013, while he was working for the BBC, Channel 4 and featuring in Hollywood films. He has also been accused of controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour as part of an investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches. He has denied all the allegations, claiming his relationships were “always consensual”.
‘It makes it very hard to speak out’
A lawyer has said libel laws can be used to prevent abuse victims coming forward to make #MeToo allegations.
Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, said because offences often took place in one to one settings it could be difficult to prove and the courts were sometimes used to silence alleged victims.
She said: “If you want to make allegations against someone with power and money, it’s very difficult to do that unless you are able to prove the truth of those allegations.
“Rape, sexual assault and coercive control can be very difficult to prove as usually such crimes take place in private and there are no direct witnesses, so providing evidence to support the allegation may be difficult.
“If someone is very litigious as I understand Brand has been, it makes it incredibly hard to speak out and you see this with all sorts of wealthy and powerful men who seek to prevent allegations, particularly of sexual misconduct, from coming out.
“Unless you have really really strong evidence, publishers won’t proceed because the risk is too big, the financial stakes are too high.”