Russell Brand has responded to the Royal Bank of Scotland worker who missed his lunch on Friday due to a protest outside the bank by apologising and offering to buy him ”hot paella”.
The City worker was caught on film squaring up to Brand outside the Royal Bank of Scotland London offices as the comedian staged a protest against capitalism.
Writing on his website, Brand apologised for the “cold food”, but said he couldn’t apologise for the RBS lockdown because, “I don’t have the authority to close great big institutions – even ones found guilty of criminal activity”.
Brand went on to explain that he was outside the bank making a documentary of which the City worker’s lunch was an “unwitting casualty”, but he wanted to ask the new RBS Ross McEwan if it was “right that he got a £3.2m 'golden hello' when the RBS is sellotaped together with money that comes from everyone else’s taxes”.
“I wonder what he would’ve said? Or whether it’s right that Fred “the shred” (he shredded evidence of impropriety) Goodwin gets to keep his £320k a year pension while disabled people have had their independent living fund scrapped,” wrote Brand.
He concluded: "I’d never knowingly keep a workingman from his dinner, it’s unacceptable and I do owe you an apology for being lairy. So Jo, get in touch, I owe you an apology and I’d like to take you for a hot paella to make up for the one that went cold – though you could say that was actually the fault of the shady shysters who nicked the wedge and locked you out, I’d rather err on the side of caution. When I make a mistake I like to apolgise and put it right. Hopefully your bosses will do the same to the people of Britain.”
Here's Brand's full reply:
Hello Jo, thanks for your open letter, I do remember you from the melee outside RBS and firstly, I’d like to say sorry for your paella getting cold. It’s not nice to suffer because of actions that are nothing to do with you. I imagine the disabled people of our country who have been hit with £6bn of benefit cuts during the period that RBS received £46bn of public bail-out money feel similarly cheesed off.
I can’t apologise for the RBS lockdown though mate because, I don’t have the authority to close great big institutions – even ones found guilty of criminal activity.
The locking of the doors and your tarnished lunch came about as the result of orders from “the faceless bosses” upstairs after I wandered in on my own while we secretly filmed from across the street – then security swarmed, all the doors were locked and crowds gathered outside. I must say Jo; it felt like RBS had something terrible to hide. But more of that in a minute.
Neither was I there for publicity, although you could be forgiven for thinking that; for many years I have earned my money (and paid my taxes) by showing off. If I needed negative publicity (and, believe me, that’s all talking publicly about inequality can ever get you) I could get it by using the “N word” on telly, or putting a cat in a bin, or having a romantic liaison with the lad from TOWIE.
I was there with filmmaker Michael Winterbottom making a documentary about how the economic crises caused by the banking industry (RBS were found guilty of rigging Libor and the foreign exchange) has led to an economic attack on the most vulnerable people in society. I don’t want to undermine your personal inconvenience Jo, I’d be the first to admit that I’m often more vexed by little things; iPhone chargers continually changing makes me as angry as apartheid – so I can’t claim any personal moral high ground, but a chance to make a film that highlights how £80bn of austerity cuts were made, punishing society’s most vulnerable during the same period that bankers awarded themselves £81bn in bonuses was irresistible.
The mob upstairs at RBS who exiled you with your rapidly deteriorating lunch have had £4bn in bonuses since the crash. Do they deserve our money more than Britain’s disabled? Or Britain’s students who are now charged to learn? Is that fair?
They were some of the questions I was hoping to ask your boss – but we got no joy through the “proper channels” so we decided to just show up.
Not just to RBS, but also to Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays. I know that the regular folk on the floor aren’t guilty of this trick against ordinary people; they’re like anyone, trying to make ends meet. As you point out though, it’s hard to get to the men at the top so we were forced into door-stopping and inadvertent lunch spoiling. The good news is that this film and even this correspondence will reach hundreds of thousands of people and they’ll learn how they’re being conned by the financial industry and turned against one another – that’s got to be a good thing, even if it makes me look a bit of a twit in the process and the national dish of Spain is eaten sub-par.
Now I’ll be the first to admit your lunch has been an unwitting casualty in this well-intentioned quest but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask new RBS boss Ross McEwan if he thinks it’s right that he got a £3.2m “golden hello” when the RBS is sellotaped together with money that comes from everyone else’s taxes. I wonder what he would’ve said? Or whether it’s right that Fred “the shred” (he shredded evidence of impropriety) Goodwin gets to keep his £320k a year pension while disabled people have had their independent living fund scrapped.
And it’s not just RBS mate. Lloyds, Barclays, Citibank and HSBC have all been found guilty of market rigging and not one banker has been jailed.
Trillions of public money lost and stolen and no one prosecuted. Remember in the riots when disaffected youth nicked the odd bottle of water or a stray pair of trainers? Criminal, I agree. 1800 years worth of sentences were meted out in special courts, to make an example. Some crime doesn’t pay, but some crime definitely does. My school mate Leigh Pickett, a fireman is being told that he and his colleagues won’t be able to collect their pension until five years later than agreed, five more years of backbreaking, flame engulfed labour – why? Because of austerity. Put simply Jo, the banks took the money, the people paid the price.
I was there to ask a few questions to the guilty parties, now I know that’s not you, you’re just a bloke trying to make a crust and evidently you like that crust warm – but again, it wasn’t me who locked the RBS, I just asked a few difficult questions and the place went nuts. The people that have inconvenienced homeowners, pensioners, the disabled and ordinary working Brits are the same ones who inconvenienced you that lunchtime. They’ve got a lot to hide, so they locked the doors. You said my “agro demeanor” reminded you of school. Your letter reminded me of school too, when the teacher would say, “because Russell’s been naughty, the whole class has to stay behind”.
I’d never knowingly keep a workingman from his dinner, it’s unacceptable and I do owe you an apology for being lairy. So Jo, get in touch, I owe you an apology and I’d like to take you for a hot paella to make up for the one that went cold – though you could say that was actually the fault of the shady shysters who nicked the wedge and locked you out, I’d rather err on the side of caution. When I make a mistake I like to apolgise and put it right. Hopefully your bosses will do the same to the people of Britain.
Russell and Joseph Reeves outside the RBS London offices
Earlier, footage of the pair revealed a tense exchange with Reeves attempting to get into the building, which was closed after Brand attempted to gain .
Brand and his team – accompanied by a cardboard cut-out of disgraced former chief executive Fred Goodwin – were asked to leave after approaching bank employees and asking them about their pay and bonuses in the wake of the bank’s £46million bail out.
Following the encounter, Reeves penned an open letter to Brand, complaining about the 39-year-old’s “puerile self-aggrandising antics of a prancing multimillionaire.”
Reeves opened the letter by pointing out Brand’s “completely futile publicity stunt” had caused his lunch (paella, since you ask) to go cold after he found himself locked out of the office.
Reeves – who stresses he does not speak for RBS “I’m not even an RBS employee, though I do currently work for them” – asks Brand what he hoped to achieve.
Did you think a pack of traders might gallop through reception, laughing maniacally as they threw burning banknotes in the air, quaffing champagne, and brutally thrashing the ornamental paupers that they keep on diamante leashes — and you, Russell, would damningly catch them in the act? But that's on Tuesdays. I get it, Russell, I do: footage of being asked to leave by security is good footage. It looks like you're challenging the system and the powers that be want your voice suppressed. Or something. But all it really means, behind the manipulative media bullshit, is that you don't have an appointment.
You turned up and weren’t allowed in. Big wow. You know what would have happened if a rabid capitalist had just turned up unannounced? They wouldn't have been allowed in either. You know what I have in my pocket? A security pass. Unauthorised people aren't allowed in. Obviously. That's not a global conspiracy, Russell; it's basic security. Breweries have security too, and that's not because they're conspiring to steal beer from the poor. And security really matters: banks are simply crawling with highly sensitive information. Letting you in because you're a celebrity and You Demand Answers could in fact see the bank hauled in front of the FCA. That would be a scandal. Turning you away is not. I'm sorry, Russell, but it's just not.
Reeves’ Squander Two blog – in which he likens Brand to a “school bully” and accuses him of being “pretty fucking aggressive” in his physical stance towards him, has been picking up attention and praise.
Commenter Susan Hill wrote: “Absolutely brilliant.. and spot on, very coherent and thought-through. If only I could imagine he would read it…”
Ian Katz, the editor of BBC Newsnight even called for Reeves to be given his own show, while economics editor Robert Peston asked: “Has Russell Brand met his match in an RBS worker whose lunch he spoiled?”
“I was really just annoyed about my food getting cold. Anyone in the office that day could have told you how annoyed I was about my lunch.
"As I walked past him I did mutter something about my food getting cold and he grabbed my arm and accosted me. I don’t remember all that clearly what he said.”
Reeves signs off his riposte with the stinging:
One last thing, Russell. Who did you inconvenience on Friday? Let's say that you're right, and that the likes of Fred Goodwin need to pay. OK, so how much trouble do you think Fred faced last Friday as a result of your antics? Do you think any of his food got cold, Russell? Even just his tea? I somehow doubt it. How about some of the millionaire traders you despise so much (some of whom are nearly as rich as you, Russell)? Well, no, because you got the wrong fucking building. (Might want to have a word with your researchers about that.) Which brings us back to where we came in: a bunch of admittedly fairly well paid but still quite ordinary working people, admin staff mostly, having their lives inconvenienced and, in at least one case, their lunches quite disastrously cooled, in order to accommodate the puerile self-aggrandising antics of a prancing multimillionaire. If you had any self-awareness beyond agonising over how often to straighten your fucking chest-hair, you'd be ashamed.