At least Russell Brand said sorry and paid for my rehab – the man I really can’t forgive is Jonathan Ross, says Andrew Sachs’ granddaughter Georgina Baillie
- Georgina was only 20 when Brand sent a late-night text ‘summoning’ her
- Brand, who was ten years older and sober, answered his door in his Y-fronts
Georgina Baillie is a vulnerable soul. At 38 years old, she admits she’s been ‘out of my head’ on alcohol, or worse, for the best part of her adult life. So much so there are times her parents, actor Charlie and voiceover artist Kate, have pretty much given up on her.
As for her ‘gentle’, ‘lovely’ grandfather, the Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, they never really made peace after Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross ‘ripped my family apart’.
She is referring, of course, to those lewd messages the pair left on Sachs’s answer machine about Brand’s sexual encounters with her, in what became known as the Sachsgate scandal after The Mail on Sunday highlighted the appalling behaviour.
In the first message, recorded and aired during Brand’s BBC Radio 2 show in 2008, Ross interrupted the comedian, shouting, ‘he f****ed your granddaughter.’ The messages continued with Brand singing, ‘It was consensual and she wasn’t menstrual.’
Quite how they found this shocking bullying of a mild-mannered, elderly man funny goodness knows, let alone how they thought it was acceptable to publicly humiliate a vulnerable young girl. Ross, remember, has two daughters of his own.
Georgina Baillie is a vulnerable soul. At 38 years old, she admits she’s been ‘out of my head’ on alcohol , or worse, for the best part of her adult life
In the first message, recorded and aired during Brand’s BBC Radio 2 show in 2008, Ross interrupted the comedian, shouting, ‘he f****ed your granddaughter’
Georgina was only 20 years old when Brand sent a late-night text ‘summoning’ her to his ‘huge house on the hill’ in Hampstead, North London, in 2005. She’d watched him on the spin-off show Big Brother’s Big Mouth and, like so many of her generation, thought he was ‘funny’ and ‘fit’. Desperate to meet him, she was thrilled when a mutual friend ‘set us up’.
Brand, who was ten years older than her and sober, answered the door in his Y-fronts.
‘I was very drunk and just thought, ‘This might be cool,’ ‘ she says. ‘I was very naive and, I’m not shy to say it, a bit of a stupid girl. I wanted an exciting experience and that’s what I got. He led me to his bedroom and I was out of my head.
‘Looking back at that girl I want to tell her, ‘You don’t have to do this. Just go home now.’ But I didn’t understand the concept of consequence. I never wanted to hurt anybody.’
A tall, slight woman with the complexion of a porcelain doll, Georgina is such a fragile slip of a thing that you want to give her a hug as her tears well up.
‘Knowing I destroyed my grandfather’s happiness for a long time is really hard. When I eventually spent time with my grandad, he was pretty much gone. He was living at Denville Hall, an actors’ residential care home in North West London. There were lucid moments but…’ She looks terribly sad.
‘I saw him four or five times there and it was very, very hard. The last time he was in his wheelchair in his room. He’d had pneumonia and was very weak. I grabbed his hands like this.’ She reaches out to take mine. ‘And said, ‘Grandad, I’m so, so sorry for everything I put you through. I’m much better now. You don’t have to worry about me any more.’
His eyes cleared. He looked at me and said, ‘Oh.’ Then his expression went back to being glossed over. I just felt maybe, maybe he forgave me. I hope so.’
I don’t tell her that when I spoke to her grandfather about what he called, ‘the horrible, horrible affair’, he told me: ‘I never think about forgiveness. Forgiveness belongs to the Lord, doesn’t it?’
As for her ‘gentle’, ‘lovely’ grandfather, the Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs (pictured), they never really made peace after Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross ‘ripped my family apart’
Georgina is upset enough as it is. Her fingers are working to and fro in her lap. She looks down at them. ‘Idle hands are the devil’s tools,’ she says.
I don’t know whether this is a phrase she’s picked up during one of her three stays at rehabilitation centres following her ‘friends with benefits’ relationship with Brand, which lasted for three years, or if they are the words of her late grandparents, Sachs and his wife Melody, in happier times.
Today, Brand stands accused of sexual assault, rape, grooming and predatory behaviour towards numerous women following a four-year investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches. He denies the ‘serious, disturbing, criminal allegations’.
Georgina says she was ‘shocked to hear those things. It’s not the Russell I recognise. He’d say, ‘I want to take you upstairs and throw you around like a rag doll’, but I loved that idea at 20.
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‘Russell was a sex addict. He was addicted to having sex and finding sex – the chase. When you look at his act, you can see he was clearly very, very poorly with sex addiction but instead of being helped he was being encouraged by the people who were making money out of his outrageousness.
‘It’s almost the equivalent to someone saying, ‘Here’s some heroine. Shoot up right now. Shoot up in front of all these people because it will be funny.
‘That’s the way I see it. Once he pushed the boundaries and it was accepted, I think he thought, ‘I can say whatever the hell I like and be rewarded for it. This is great.’ Whoever was advising him, the agents, the production companies, Channel 4, the BBC should have said, ‘No, you’re going to rehab and you’re staying for a year or however long it takes.’ But he was a big draw for them. If he was presenting a show everyone of my generation would watch because he could say anything and get away with it.
‘Those very people who are turning on him and dumping him now were happy to encourage and nurture his sickness for money. They knew he was a sex addict. Of course they knew. They were complicit in his behaviour and should be held to account because they were enabling him and there’s been collateral damage.
‘I am that collateral damage and so are the other girls. That 16-year-old girl [she’s referring to ‘Alice’ who alleged she was chauffeured from school for sex sessions with Brand in a BBC car] is gross, isn’t it?’
She looks down at those hands working furiously in her lap. ‘You know, he’s told me he now knows he wasn’t well,’ she says, her eyes wide. ‘I didn’t see Russell for ten years after those tapes. He talked to me when I was in rehab.’
He paid for her care at the BAC O’Connor centre in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, in 2018 and has financially supported its work – although the centre says it has ‘severed all ties’ with Brand in the wake of the Dispatches programme.
‘Russell had heard I was in trouble and felt putting me in rehab was an opportunity to right some wrongs. He came down to the centre to hand out the prizes at the Christmas party. My therapist at the time said, ‘Russell wants to talk to you.’ I just froze. I said, ‘I don’t know if I want to do that.’
‘But he sat me down and made, what I felt, was a sincere apology. He said it was a private relationship and that he should never have made it public. His eyes were watering. I was crying because it was a bit much. It was overwhelming.’ I tell her I find it rather disturbing that the very man who, frankly, used her as a vulnerable young girl for sex then publicly exposed her on national radio, was allowed within a foot of her, particularly when she was undergoing therapy.
‘I felt he was a different man,’ she says. ‘He got away with stuff back then but he knows it was wrong. That’s all I can ask for. He said he has two daughters and now understood what my grandfather had been put through. I felt it was genuine. I’m not protecting him. I’m just telling you the truth.’ As incredible as it sounds, she still lights up when she speaks of Brand.
‘He met my friends. I met his mum Babs and I started to really like him. But, when you’re young like that you delude yourself. Well, I deluded myself quite a lot. There were times I thought, ‘I’m practically his girlfriend’ but he never said that to me. That was the crazy workings of a just-gone-teenage head.
Russell Brand breaking silence to deny serious allegations ahead of Channel 4 Dispatches
Brand’s PR firm MBC PR and talent agent Tavistock Wood no longer advertise him as a client, and his publisher Bluebird, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, have suspended their relationship. Pictured: Brand with his wife Laura
Russell Brand at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles in September 2008. The comedian has denied the allegations made against him
‘A few times I’d get a text from him between 11pm and 12pm. That’s obviously a booty call. Now I’m older I understand it’s a disrespectful time. He’d say, ‘You should come and visit me’. I’d think, ‘I wonder how many girls he’s kicked out to make room for me?’
‘Once when I didn’t want to go round because it was really, really late and I was staying with my dad Russell called me ‘pugnacious’. He’s got an amazing command of the English language,’ she beams.
‘He’d end the texts – sexual texts with all these words I’d never heard before – with kisses at the end,
‘[That was] until I stopped answering his calls. I was 23 and felt I was in a different place in my life. I wanted a boyfriend. I think he was a bit ego-punched. ‘How dare any girl not want to come and visit?’ sort of thing. When he tried to call me, I told him I was going out with someone else and that was it.
‘He sent a curt text saying, ‘I guess I won’t be seeing you any more’ or something like that. There were no kisses at the end just a full stop. I didn’t hear from him again until the day he called my grandad three or four months later.’ She shrugs. ‘I have forgiven him,’ she says. ‘But I have different feelings for Jonathan Ross.’ Her face turns to thunder now.
‘I don’t know what to say about him other than it’s just really sad that somebody who has daughters could think it’s OK [to leave those messages]. He’s never apologised to me. It makes me feel like I don’t matter and I’m just some disposable tart.’
Following the Sachsgate scandal, which attracted more than 40,000 complaints and was condemned by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Brand and Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas resigned. Ross was suspended for a derisory 12 weeks. Although Ross made a general apology, saying he was ‘deeply sorry’ for his ‘juvenile and thoughtless remarks’ and wrote to Andrew Sachs, Georgina says Ross never said sorry to her personally.
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‘If anything, their behaviour [Ross and Brand’s] was rewarded. Look how many bookings they got. Look at how much money they made.
‘Look how short the suspension of Jonathan Ross was. There were no consequences for that guy. Nothing. I try so hard to live my life without resentment but that’s one I’m still working on.
‘I contacted his [Ross’s] daughter Honey on Instagram last year,’ she says. ‘I wanted to talk to her because I wanted to know what she thought about all the slut-shaming that continued for years. I said, ‘You’re a self-declared feminist. What do you think about this?’
‘She didn’t answer me for ages. Then, she said, ‘I was 13 at the time.’ I started to feel really bad because, when I read back the message I’d sent her, it did feel a bit attack-ish so I apologised.
‘But what must they have been talking about in their house? Jonathan Ross is from that group of chauvinist presenters who were given the green light in the 1980s and 1990s. We’re in a different world now but he’s never seen fit to say a word to me. He should be ashamed of himself.’
Georgina, who has been sober now for three years, is working as a professional artist. Her paintings, largely depicting female strength, are compelling pieces.
Georgina had actually tried to take her life following her grandmother’s death. Having thrown herself in front of a car, she was admitted to a psychiatric unit. ‘I felt I could never make things right,’ she says. ‘I was very, very sick. After those bullying messages – they were bullying, let’s call it what it is – their [Ross and Brand’s] only line of defence was that I was a slut.
‘I was very lost and had a problem with alcohol and drugs. I was unstoppable – a nightmare. I was making awful decisions and people took advantage.
‘I did topless modelling, which turned into more than that after being given drugs and alcohol on a shoot. So, I was vilified for the whole [Sachsgate] thing. I was the scarlet woman. There was a lot of shame. I guess I felt that it was me who was really, really bad.
‘I felt guilty, that it was all my fault. They made those calls but I’m the one who put myself there. I told Russell who my grandad was. I shouldn’t have done that. I really regret it.
‘When I tried to kill myself, I felt, ‘I can’t live like this but I don’t know how not to live like this.’ ‘
Today, she is close to both her parents and in the early throes of a healthy relationship. ‘Do you know on my first day in rehab Russell sent me to a practitioner called Voodoo Stu who does reiki and stuff on you? I was sitting crying my eyes out when I felt him gripping my hands.
‘He said, ‘Your grandparents are here.’ I just bawled because I knew they were. I think they do forgive me.’
I don’t doubt it. But as for Brand and Ross, well, as dear Andrew Sachs would say: ‘Forgiveness belongs to the Lord.’
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