Jeremy Vine tells court of “avalanche of hatred” directed at him by stalker

Image above: Jeremy Vine

“The Jimmy Savile of trolling”

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine told a court he had been subjected to an “avalanche of hatred” from former BBC Radio Leeds presenter Alex Belfield, who has been charged with eight counts of stalking against Vine and other BBC employees.

Opening the Crown’s case against Belfield at Nottingham crown court, the presenter of shows on BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5, who lives in Chiswick, said Mr Belfield had bombarded him with harassing tweets and YouTube videos.

He told the jury: “This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling.

“Watching this man [on YouTube] is like swimming in sewage.

“I thought, ‘It’s absolutely disgusting’ … I found it shocking and distressing and it made me worried.”

Mr Belfield has more than half a million followers on his social media channels. The court heard how he started out as a broadcast assistant on local radio but in recent years set up a YouTube channel called Celebrity Radio.

He is accused of causing serious harm or distress to Jeremy Vine, Stephanie Hirst, a former BBC Radio Leeds mid-morning show host, and Bernie Keith, of BBC Radio Northampton. He denies eight counts of stalking, alleged to have been committed between 2012 and 2021, including three counts relating to two managers.

Image above: Alex Belfield

Stalker affected Jeremy Vine’s family

Mr Vine told the court he had been stalked before:

“I have in the past had a physical stalker who followed me. That is a picnic compared to this guy. It’s like an avalanche of hatred that you get hit by.”

He described how it had affected his family too. He had had to explain to his younger daughter, then 13, that he was worried one of Belfield’s 500,000 online followers could “have a knife or acid or something”.

“I saw her shrink” he said.

It was a year before she regained her confidence in leaving the family home, he added.

“She’s his victim as well, and he doesn’t even know her name.”

He told the court he had received 5,000 to 10,000 hateful tweets after the defendant’s comments.

“I was brought so low. I just thought, ‘There’s no point broadcasting if the effect is that I’ve got this’.”

Mr Bellfield denies the charges. The case continues.

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