Former BBC DJ guilty of stalking Jeremy Vine and other broadcasters

·3-min read
Alex Belfield and Jeremy Vine - Jacob King/PA Wire/Tom Maddick/SWNS
Alex Belfield and Jeremy Vine - Jacob King/PA Wire/Tom Maddick/SWNS

A former BBC DJ has been found guilty of waging a relentless stalking campaign against broadcasters and subjecting Jeremy Vine to an “avalanche of hatred”.

Alex Belfield was labelled “the Jimmy Savile of trolling” at a trial which heard that he repeatedly posted or sent abusive messages, videos and emails.

Jurors accepted that he caused serious alarm or distress to two victims and was found guilty of “simple” stalking in relation to Vine and Philip Dehany, a theatre blogger.

However, he was found not guilty of stalking four other people he was accused of going after.

Belfield was granted bail and will be sentenced on Sep 16. He was warned that he could be jailed.

‘This is not a regular troll here’

Describing watching Belfield’s video output as like swimming in sewage, Vine said: “It felt like I had a fish hook in my face and my flesh was being torn, and the only way to avoid further pain was to stay completely still.

“This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling.”

Jurors at Nottingham Crown Court deliberated for 14 hours and 27 minutes before convicting Belfield of four charges.

He showed no emotion and wrote notes on a piece of paper as he was found guilty of committing the offences between 2012 and 2021.

Mr Justice Saini, the judge, told Belfield that he needed to be “extra careful about your online communications” as he adjourned sentence until September.

“There’s a good chance of a custodial sentence,” he added.

Alex Belfield - Jacob King/PA Wire
Alex Belfield - Jacob King/PA Wire

The court was told the 42-year-old, of Mapperley, Nottingham, started out as a broadcast assistant on local radio and in recent years set up a YouTube channel, Celebrity Radio.

He told the court that he was the victim of a social media “pile-on” and a “witch hunt” by other broadcasters after exercising his rights to freedom of speech in communications with the complainants.

Opening the case last month, John McGuinness QC, prosecuting, said that Vine was subjected to a “constant bombardment” of harassing tweets and YouTube videos in 2020.

The presenter, the court heard, faced a wave of abuse online after false and entirely baseless claims were made relating to the supposed theft of £1,000.

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

‘An avalanche of hatred’

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.”

Another one of his victims included a videographer who was stalked online after tweeting his disgust at one of Belfield’s YouTube videos.

In addition, Bernie Keith, a presenter on BBC Radio Northampton, was left feeling suicidal by a “tsunami of hate”, the trial heard.

At the start of the trial, prosecutors said that Belfield “wasn’t prepared to move on” after leaving the BBC and became disgruntled by what he perceived to be unfair treatment from his managers.

In addition to the guilty verdicts, Belfield was found not guilty of stalking charges in relation to Rozina Breen, the BBC’s former head of North; Liz Green and Stephanie Hirst, former BBC Radio Leeds presenters; and Helen Thomas, a BBC worker.

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