An ex-BBC radio host accused of eight stalking charges has told a court he is the victim of a “witch-hunt” and a “pile-on” by broadcasters including Jeremy Vine.
YouTube radio host Alex Belfield opted not to give evidence in his defence before giving a closing speech claiming he was a whistle-blower who had seen two-and-a-half years of his life “torn apart” by police inquiries.
Prosecutors allege the 42-year-old used social media messages, videos and emails to cause serious alarm or distress to eight people including Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter Mr Vine, former BBC Radio Leeds mid-morning show host Stephanie Hirst, and BBC Radio Northampton’s Bernie Keith.
Belfield, from Mapperley, Nottingham, denies eight counts of stalking spanning a period between 2012 and 2021, after his contract with BBC Radio Leeds was not renewed.
Addressing jurors on Thursday, Belfield told Nottingham Crown Court he had chosen not to testify because a transcript of his police interviews had been read to the jury.
Asserting that his position had not changed since his comments to police, Belfield said of his time at the BBC: “I in fact was bullied – I in fact was the victim.
“I have never been a threat to anyone at the BBC other than to expose what they don’t want me to talk about.
“They spend their time begging for whistle-blowers and when I whistle-blowed they tried to shut me down.
“Why did they do that? Because they don’t want me to have a voice.”
During his speech, Belfield denied making death threats to anyone, adding: “I think lockdown made it fun to close me down… because I am the only person in lockdown who actually became more successful.
“My channel took off during lockdown because people were lonely – I became their voice of reason.
“Had there been a death threat there is absolutely no way the BBC would have thrown them in the bin.”
Saying he had been strip-searched and “thrown in a van” by police, Belfield argued that stalking actually involved “stealth” while nothing he had done had been “behind closed doors”.
“My opening line to the police was ‘this is a witch-hunt’,” Belfield said. “A witch-hunt is a load of people getting together to get rid of someone they don’t like.
“That’s what this is. Why would you wade into something that’s nothing to do with you?”
Accusing complainants including Mr Vine of subjecting him to a “pile-on” to shut him down, Belfield added: “Instead of accepting my opinion… they wanted it closed down.
“All I simply wanted to do is tell the truth. As a whistle-blower at the BBC I was there for 15 years and I saw where the bodies were buried, if you like.
“I was the most successful anti-BBC journalist in the country by simply going to the press office for freedom of information (requests).
“I have had two-and-a-half years of my life torn apart by these people.”
Belfield, who described himself as “a Nottingham lad with a potty mouth”, also said he had paid for his house by selling stories about the BBC to newspapers.
Before the defendant’s speech, the trial judge Mr Justice Saini told the jury they would retire to consider a verdict on Tuesday.
He also gave “route to verdict” directions to the jury, telling them they were entitled to draw such inferences as appeared proper from Belfield’s decision not to give evidence.
The judge said the jury must not convict Belfield “wholly or even mainly” on his failure to give evidence.
He told the jury: “A journalist is entitled to be provocative and controversial.
“The prosecution say that what Mr Belfield did went beyond any reasonable exercise of free speech rights.”
Mr Belfield’s case was that he had acted reasonably, the judge said.