'Like a chronic illness': Emily Maitlis describes impact of being stalked

Kevin Rawlinson
Emily Maitlis in 2016. Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images

Emily Maitlis fears she will never be able to put an end to the harassment she has suffered for more than 20 years, despite the man responsible having been jailed again this week.

The Newsnight presenter hit out at the authorities for allowing Edward Vines to continue writing to her while he was serving a previous prison sentence for breaching his restraining order. But even as she described the strain his harassment placed on her, she said she believed he was a victim too.

“This has literally been going on for 20 years. It feels like sort of a chronic illness,” Maitlis told BBC Radio 5 Live.

She said the stress had turned her into a “jumpy” person who could be short-tempered with her family. “Your head is somewhere else and you’re having to think about things that are just ludicrous, like how do you get in and out of your front door and how [the children] are getting back from school.

“It’s not that you think everyone is out to kill you. You recognise it as a paranoia. But it doesn’t make it any easier.”

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Vines was jailed for three years in 2016 for breaching his restraining order. Despite that, he wrote to Maitlis from prison and once out on licence. On Tuesday he was sentenced to another jail term, of three years and nine months, for the further breach of the indefinite order.

The Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the administration of prisons in England and Wales, apologised to Maitlis on Wednesday for having allowed the correspondence to continue even as Vines was in custody. It promised to step up its monitoring of prisoners.

In the radio interview, Maitlis said it was “extraordinary to think that a stalker behind bars for corresponding can then carry on corresponding”.

She added: “It’s not that I ever believe it will stop or he will stop, or the system will manage to prevent it properly. Whatever treatment he’s had isn’t working as a cure and he is obviously also a victim in this.

“He is unwell and has wasted half his life. Stalking is a weirdo glamorised term for what is essentially mental ill health and so somewhere along the lines we have to change the mechanism.”