Charity boss offers support to Brand

A CHARITY boss from Suffolk has been at the side of under-fire radio and television presenter Russell Brand and offered his unwavering support to the star.

Will Clarke

A CHARITY boss from Suffolk has been at the side of under-fire radio and television presenter Russell Brand and offered his unwavering support to the star.

Chip Somers, project manager at Bury St Edmunds-based addiction charity Focus12, visited the comic at his London home yesterday and assured him of his backing following the current storm over lewd telephone calls.

Mr Somers helped Brand kick hard drugs and the star has since become a patron of the charity, which is based in Risbygate Street.

He visited him yesterday for their monthly meeting to discuss future fundraising events for the charity.

Brand, 33, is at the centre of an increasing storm after he and fellow presenter Jonathan Ross left lewd messages on the answerphone of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs during his Radio 2 show.

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But drug addiction expert Mr Somers was quick to defend his former patient, who faces an uncertain future after resigning from the BBC over the row.

“He is in very good spirits,” he said. “There was considerable interest outside his house but we talked about Focus12 and he reconfirmed his involvement with us whatever happens.

“He has never been anything but passionate, generous and kind, and completely committed to bringing as many people through recovery as possible.

“He is a very positive individual - anybody who is able to survive long term (drug) dependency has some considerable strength.”

Since 2005, Brand has been instrumental in setting up major events for Focus12 and has attracted the likes of Mighty Boosh star Noel Fielding as well as Noel Gallagher of Oasis to fundraisers.

Despite the current row - which has seen Ross suspended from the BBC and the corporation facing scathing criticism - Mr Somers stressed that the meeting to discuss the charity's fundraising activities over the coming weeks went ahead as planned. But he admitted that they had made no firm plans for future events.

Brand and Ross were suspended on Wednesday after pressure was put on the BBC to act over the messages left on the answerphone of Mr Sachs, 78, claiming that Brand had slept with the actor's granddaughter Georgina Baillie, 23. The pair went on to joke that Mr Sachs might kill himself over the revelation.

The pre-recorded segment from the late night Russell Brand Show has now received an unprecedented 30,000 complaints.

Brand resigned from his Radio 2 show on Wednesday and both comics have formally apologised to Mr Sachs and Miss Baillie.

Commenting on Brand's apologies for the prank messages, Mr Somers said he had “never doubted Russell's sincerity at any point”.

Prior to his rehabilitation, Brand has admitted trying most drugs and in his autobiography said he “fell in love” with heroin.

He has also described how the drug led him to lose a job with MTV when he turned up to work dressed as Osama Bin Laden the day after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Focus12, which is also supported by Big Brother host Davina McCall following her own recovery from addiction, was founded in 1997 to support people through all types of addictions and offers assisted places for people with financial difficulties.

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