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A former radio presenter is accused of leading a “campaign of harassment” against former colleagues as well as Jeremy Vine after being let go by the BBC. Alex Belfield, 42, of Shaldon Close in Mapperley, denies eight counts of stalking on eight different people between 2012 and 2021.
The prosecution says his stalking is more akin to ‘internet trolling’ than physical stalking, sending emails, tweets or making videos and subjecting them to harassment and abuse – some of them over the course of many years.
Belfield is described as a broadcaster who has worked in the media all his life. He started out as a broadcast assistant on local radio and then became a radio presenter himself. In more recent years, he has set up his own channel on YouTube.
Three counts of stalking relate to Belfield’s time at BBC Radio Leeds, on a fixed term contract that ran for one year between spring 2010 and spring 2011. Belfield’s contract was then not renewed and he left the BBC in 2011, starting his YouTube channel.
Prosecuting, John McGuinness QC told the court: “The prosecution suggests that Alex Belfield was, or became, disgruntled by what he perceived to be his unfair treatment while he was at the BBC.”
The court heard that Jeremy Vine, who works for BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5, was accused of stealing £1,000 of taxpayers’ money by Mr Belfield, which had been donated to the Myers memorial fund by the BBC – set up in memory of former radio executive John Myers who died suddenly in 2019.
Jeremy Vine was said to have no knowledge or awareness of Belfield until April 2020, when he was subjected to what the prosecution calls “a constant bombardment of harassing tweets and YouTube videos” from him. Mr McGuinness told the court that Belfield had encouraged his viewers to call into Mr Vine’s show and ask where the money had gone, offering to pay viewers £10 – or 1,000p as he referred to it – to anyone who was successful.
On another occasion, Belfield claimed Mr Vine had made his daughter a director of his company to avoid paying more tax, an allegation which was “completely untrue”, the prosecutor told the court.
Mr Vine is said to have struggled to sleep, lost his appetite and was worried someone might come to his home, the court was told. When Mr Vine posted a tribute to his late father, one of Belfield’s followers allegedly sent him a message stating ‘Did your father know his son was a thieving toe rag?’
Nottingham Crown Court heard that while Belfield was still at the BBC, he brought a claim that he had been injured during a Children In Need broadcast. This claim was settled by the BBC and Belfield was paid compensation for his injuries.
Mr McGuinness alleges that Belfield set out to make the lives of three BBC Radio Leeds employees and former colleagues – Rozina Breen, Liz Green and Helen Thomas – a misery. “In large measure he succeeded in doing so by a relentless campaign of harassment against all three,” he added.
One video, posted online in January 2020, nine years after he left the BBC, allegedly “verbally attacked” the three colleagues. The court heard that he referred to one as a “nasty vile old bag” and another as “the most spineless weasel” he had ever met in radio.
As the prosecution read out some of the claims he made in the video Belfield, who is representing himself in court, nodded his head. The court heard that he blamed the three women for ending his “successful BBC career” through their lies.
Mr McGuinness claimed that Ms Green was compared to a transsexual, with Belfield saying she was vile, ugly and useless at her job. He continued: “He [Belfield] would frequently criticise her weight and how she dressed and referred to her as a drag queen. On one occasion, he called her a ‘wig wearing transvestite’.”
Helen Thomas was described as a “truly inept and despicable weasel” and, in an email read out to court. Belfield allegedly used “heavily unpleasant sexual innuendo” referring to himself and Ms Thomas.
Stephanie Hirst, meanwhile, transitioned from a male to a female in 2014 and went onto present the same radio show as Mr Belfield had on BBC Radio Leeds before his contract was not renewed. Belfield accused the BBC of hiring her for a “box ticking exercise”, Mr McGuinness told the court.
The prosecution claims Belfield made a YouTube video mocking her entitled ‘Fanny on the Tranny’ before copying in over 100 BBC members of staff into an email with the video attached.
Mr McGuinness added: “Stephanie Hirst found Mr Belfield’s conduct towards her to be sickening, misogynistic and transphobic. She became much more hesitant on air because of Mr Belfield. She says his abuse was ferocious and relentless. She has had to develop coping mechanisms to ensure that she suffers no more emotional harm.”
In 2019, one of Belfield’s alleged victims contacted another person – videographer Ben Hewis – who was upset by some of his comments, telling Mr Hewis: “I don’t like seeing him make other people miserable – he’s really not worth it. He’s nothing. So I would ignore him and block his work.” They added: “Please don’t attach my name to it any form.”
The court was told that Belfield went onto threaten legal action over the comments made after they were shared on Twitter, labelling it as an “unprovoked character assassination”. The prosecution, however, argue that there is no evidence Belfield ever contacted lawyers over the incident.
They also claim the Mr Hewis’ heavily pregnant wife was contacted by Belfield, who told her that her husband was ignoring calls from Nottinghamshire Police and what he had been put through was “indescribable” – adding a photo of a scan of their unborn child as an attachment with the message.
After a fellow YouTuber wrote a blog post defending Mr Hewis, the prosection say Belfield threatened to take legal action against them as well, writing in an email: “I hope you have deep pockets”.
One alleged victim was taunted for being gay, according to Mr McGuinness, saying in a YouTube video: “These little twirlies, these little gay boys, they don’t really get it do they?
“They don’t get how it works, you can’t stalk someone and you can’t bait them and expect them not to react.”
Mr McGuinness told the court that, when questioned by police, Belfield told them he was the subject of a witch hunt, a thorn in the BBC’s side and that he was not guilty of any of the allegations against him.
The trial continues.
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Written by: thehitnetwork
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