On his Twitter account, Brand said he planned to take legal action over the piece, which made various allegations about the off-shore holding company he reputedly pays his rent to.
— Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) December 2, 2014
— Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) December 3, 2014
Brand has not specified what exactly about the story is legally actionable, but he could potentially have a libel case. "An accusation of hypocrisy can be libellous in some circumstances - when Jason Donovan sued The Face for example, [which had published allegations that he was homosexual]," David Banks, the journalist and media law expert, told HuffPost UK.
"Whether it is defensible as fair comment depends on whether it was expressed as an honestly held belief on the facts of this situation. Truth as a defence, especially in accusations as nebulous as hypocrisy, has always been a notoriously difficult defence to establish."
Previous legal tussles between Brand and The Sun have come out in the comedian's favour. In May 2014, Brand accepted "substantial" libel damages over the false allegation he had cheated on his then-girlfriend Jemima Khan.
Brand paid the damages, according to his lawyer, to "what he considers to be diverse, just and decent causes", including to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, one of the charities he named in his plan to sue the Sun again.
The comedian wrote a Guardian piece about the "pain, disruption and distress" the Sun had caused by the piece, though he called it a mere "a pale liver-spot on the back of [Sun owner Rupert] Murdoch's glabrous claw".
Brand had revealed previously that he rented his pad in Shoreditch in an altercation with Channel 4's Paraic O'Brien.
Speaking to Brand outside Downing Street at a protest calling to keep Hoxton's New Era Estate affordable to the current residents, the interviewer suggested that part of the housing problem is the super-rich buying property in London, asking, "how much did you pay for your place?"
"It’s rented,” shot back Brand, before telling the reporter, "I’m not here to talk about my rent, mate. You’re a snide.
“Blessedly, I can afford my rent and I’m prepared to stand up for people that can’t.”
The Sun's front page today revealed that the self-styled revolutionary apparently pays £76,200 a year in rent, to a landlord allegedly based in the British Virgin Islands, KKY PTY Ltd.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, the only person the paper found to comment on the story, told the paper: “Russell Brand is very quick to criticise accountable and elected politicians, but he seems to be rather shy about discussing his own affairs. This bears all the hallmarks of hypocrisy.”
Brand had seemingly hinted The Sun's story was coming in a tweet before the article was published.
Try not to be distracted. I'm not important. Don't let them distract you. pic.twitter.com/qpf2gGeRCe
— Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) December 2, 2014
But much of the online chatter on the piece took the view the piece was a cheap shot, and a little underwhelming, whatever your opinion of Brand.
Russell Brand is annoying but The Sun's front page makes NO SENSE. Blaming him for the sins of his... landlord? Bit desperate.
— Rhys Bart (@rhysbart) December 3, 2014
The Sun's article about Russell Brand makes no sense! He's campaigning against high rents and dodgy landlords - he's not a dodgy landlord!
— Amy (@AmyxJean) December 3, 2014
I'm not a Russell Brand fan, but it appears he is being accused of paying his rent on time.
Guilt by association?
Rich from the SUN.
— max j freeman (@maxjfreeman) December 3, 2014
The piece even spurned a hashtag, started by Guardian journalist Owen Jones #TheSunLogic
Stop talking about combatting starvation - you have a fridge full of food! Hypocrite! #TheSunLogic
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) December 3, 2014
— Sam Read (@SammyPotatoes) December 3, 2014
My mum pays her taxes but she bought a Take That album. Hypocrite #TheSunLogic
— Billy MacInnes (@billymac1964) December 3, 2014
— Paul Beattie (@beapabacor) December 3, 2014
Stop talking about saving the rainforest, you have two trees in your garden #TheSunLogic
— James (@JamesHawker9) December 3, 2014
Don't complain about bankers bonuses! YOU tacitly condoned such behaviour the moment you opened an account! #TheSunLogic
— Tawanda Mark Gavhure (@Tawandamg) December 3, 2014
Even the BBC said in their paper review that it was "not clear how those facts might make Mr Brand guilty of hypocrisy”.
Brand had earlier dedicated his YouTube show to the altercation with Channel 4 outside Downing Street. “I’m annoyed,” said Brand on The Trews, referring to reporter O'Brien's lack of interest in the campaign to keep Hoxton's New Era Estate affordable to the current residents.
“You’re outside Number 10. Next door to that is George Osborne, the Chancellor, who did £80 billion of austerity cuts while £80 billion of banker bonuses were happening in the same time frame, and campaign for the EU to prevent banker caps. ‘See that house in the background, mate… that’s were these things happened’.”
The actor, who described the interview on his YouTube news channel as a "quarrel at a jumble sale", said of himself: "I shouldn't be allowed on television. I'm so easily wound up. What does it matter to me, what have I got to lose, just from this one bloke?."
He went on: "When you talk to a journalist I sort of think it's a combination of boring and really annoying, and my personality type is not well suited to that kind of environment."