Ex-BBC DJ Alex Belfield found guilty of stalking Jeremy Vine and three others

Alex Belfield, a YouTuber and former local BBC radio host, has been found guilty of stalking four people including the broadcaster Jeremy Vine.

Jurors at Nottingham crown court found Belfield, whom Vine described in court as “the Jimmy Savile of trolling”, guilty of four stalking charges. Belfield, 42, showed no emotion as the verdicts were delivered.

The jurors accepted Belfield caused serious alarm or distress to two victims – the BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith and videographer Ben Hewis. He was also found guilty of “simple” stalking in relation to Vine and the theatre blogger Philip Dehany.

He was found not guilty of stalking Rozina Breen, the BBC’s former head of North; the former BBC Radio Leeds presenters Liz Green and Stephanie Hirst; and Helen Thomas, a former BBC worker.

Vine, a broadcaster with BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5, told the court Belfield had waged a campaign of abuse against him via social media and YouTube. The court heard Vine had received 5,000 to 10,000 hateful tweets after Belfield’s comments. He described watching Belfield’s video output as like swimming in sewage.

“This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling,” Vine told the court.

Keith told jurors he was left feeling suicidal by a “tsunami of hate” from Belfield.

During his four-week trial, Belfied opted not to give evidence. He used his defence closing speech to describe himself as a whistleblower who had had two and a half years of his life “torn apart” by police inquiries. He claimed he was subjected to a “witch-hunt” and an online “pile-on” by other broadcasters.

The prosecutor John McGuinness QC said Vine was subjected to a “constant bombardment” of harassing tweets and YouTube videos in 2020. He said Belfield’s conduct after his contract with BBC Radio Leeds ended in 2011 “went beyond any reasonable exercise of free speech rights”.

Belfield is said to have developed a “dislike, almost hatred” of Vine after the BBC made a donation to a memorial fund set up to honour a friend of the broadcaster.

In his evidence, Vine, who launched separate defamation proceedings last year, said of Belfield: “I found it shocking and distressing, and it made me worried. 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.”

Belfield was granted bail and will be sentenced next month.

Vine retweeted reports of the verdict but has yet to comment.

The Guardian

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