UK & World News
Russell Brand Tells MPs Of Drugs Battle
Comedian Russell Brand brought some colour to the House of Commons as he gave evidence to a committee hearing about his battle with drug addiction.
Brand, who recently divorced singer Katy Perry, wore a black hat, gold chains and crosses and a torn black vest top for his appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The flamboyant star called MPs "mate" during the lively, 30-minute hearing and addressed them by their first names as he fired off his views about how to combat drug use.
The committee, which is reviewing the Government's drug policy, was packed with people eager to catch a glimpse of the actor as he recounted his own "rough" experience.
Brand, 36, who said he had beaten a heroin addiction which saw him arrested adozen times, blamed his drug problems on emotional and psychological difficulties.
He said he was not calling for a "free-for-all" where everyone is able to take drugs but argued addiction should be treated like an illness instead of a crime.
Society should not "discard people, write them off on methadone and leave them on the sidelines" and should exercise more "love and compassion", he argued.
He dismissed the role of celebrities and said he would back decriminalisation because he believes illegality is of no concern to users.
"I'm not a legal expert. I'm saying that, to a drug addict, the legal aspect is irrelevant," he said.
"If you need to get drugs, you will. The criminal and legal status, I think, sends the wrong message. Being arrested isn't a lesson, it's just an administrative blip."
Apparently enjoying the session, Brand resisted attempts to hurry him up when chairman Keith Vaz tried to move on.
"Time is infinite. We can't run out of time. Who's next? Theresa May? She may not turn up. Ask her if she knows what day it is," he said, in a joke about the Abu Qatada deportation row.
Then when Labour MP David Winnick told Brand the committee was not a variety show, Brand replied: "You're providing a little bit of variety though, making it more like Dad's Army."
The actor has previously spoken frankly about his addictions to heroin and alcohol and has also written an autobiography.
Writing on his website last July, after the death of singer Amy Winehouse, said addiction should be treated like a potentially fatal illness.
"Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death," he wrote.
"Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today.
"We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy's incredible talent. Or Kurt's (Cobain) or Jimi's (Hendrix) or Janis's (Joplin), some people just get the affliction.
"All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill."