Sector sticks with shamed stars despite row over lewd phone calls

Charities supported by disgraced broadcasters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand are standing by the stars in spite of the public outcry at the obscene phone calls the pair made on Brand's Radio 2 show.

Vegetarian: Brand poses with animal rights supporters. Credit: PETA
Vegetarian: Brand poses with animal rights supporters. Credit: PETA

Last week, Brand resigned from the show and Ross was suspended for 12 weeks at the height of the row over prank calls to 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. But charities that work with the celebrities are taking a more benevolent attitude.

Animal rights charity Peta has received several complaints about Brand appearing on the cover of its 'Vegetarian Starter Kit', which gives advice to people on becoming vegetarian.

Robbie LeBlanc, director of the European arm of Peta, said: "The cover will continue to have him on it because Mr Sachs, who is also a Peta supporter, has accepted Mr Brand's apology. That's good enough for us."

Chip Somers, chief executive of Focus 12, a Suffolk drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity that helped Brand with his drug problems in 2002 and of which he is now a patron, said: "Russell Brand has never been anything other than supportive and passionate about what we do, and I see no reason to change the arrangement.

"Many people receive treatment through us as a result of his personal funding - people who would otherwise fall through the gaps in the funding system."

Ross has been criticised in the past for making insensitive remarks about charities.In October 2003, children's charity the Variety Club stood by him after the Broadcasting Standards Commission upheld a complaint about a joke he made on his Radio 2 show about disabled people "on a Variety bus".

In March 2004, the commission upheld more than 30 complaints after he swore during a live broadcast during Red Nose Night Live.

Ross is currently fronting a Christmas appeal for Children with Leukaemia. "People see through the name and know it's for a good cause," said a spokeswoman for the charity. "They know they are supporting the raffle, not Jonathan Ross."

The Lowe Syndrome Trust, of which Ross is a trustee, refused to comment. Comic Relief, the BBC charity fundraiser for which Ross presents the live TV show, would not say whether he would continue in the role.

A spokeswoman for the charity website Buy Once Give Twice, which auctions lots donated by celebrities for charity, said the potential reward of using celebrities to endorse a cause came with a risk.

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