Former BBC DJ Alex Belfield found guilty of harassing Jeremy Vine and other broadcasters | Ents & Arts News

Former BBC DJ Alex Belfield has been found guilty of relentlessly harassing other broadcasters, including Jeremy Vine, whom he subjected to an “avalanche of hate”.

The former radio host, who has presented on BBC Radio Leeds, has been labeled ‘the Jimmy Savile of trolling’ during a trial which heard he repeatedly posted or messaged, abusive videos and emails.

Jurors at Nottingham Crown Court agreed that Belfield had caused serious concern or distress to two victims and he was found guilty of ‘simple harassment’ in relation to Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter Mr Vine and theater blogger Philip Dehaney.

Mr Vine also testified against Belfieldtelling jurors, “He’s not a regular troll here. He’s the Jimmy Savile of trolling.”

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

Jurors convicted the YouTube host, who in recent years has created a channel known as Celebrity Radio, after deliberating for 14 hours and 27 minutes.

The 42-year-old was also found guilty of harassing BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith and videographer Ben Hewis.

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Belfield was found guilty of ‘simple’ harassment in relation to Jeremy Vine

Belfield told the court he was the victim of social media ‘piling’ and ‘witch-hunting’ by other broadcasters after exercising his free speech rights in communications with the complainants.

Opening the Crown brief last month, prosecutor John McGuinness QC said Vine had been subjected to a “constant bombardment” of harassing tweets and YouTube videos in 2020.

The presenter, the court heard, faced a wave of online abuse after false and totally unfounded allegations were made about the alleged theft of £1,000.

Belfield reportedly developed a “dislike, almost hatred” for Mr Vine after the BBC donated the sum to a memorial fund set up to honor a friend of the broadcaster.

Testifying, Mr Vine said: “I found this shocking and distressing, and it worried me. In the past, I had a physical stalker follow me.

“It’s a picnic compared to this guy. It’s like an avalanche of hate hitting you.”

Belfield was found not guilty of stalking charges relating to BBC North manager Rozina Breen, former BBC Radio Leeds presenters Liz Green and Stephanie Hirst, and former BBC staffer Helen Thomas.

Mr McGuinness told the court: ‘There is no suggestion that the defendant’s conduct involved physical harassment…although such was the effect of what Alex Belfield did that some were in fact concerned the possibility of Mr. Belfield showing up at their home.

“The harassment at issue in this case is of a different kind – and more akin to internet trolling.

“The alleged victims did not want to be contacted by Alex Belfield, they did not want to see or hear or know what he was saying about them.

“But he went ahead and he did it anyway, the prosecution said, harassing them relentlessly, knowing or being aware that he was harassing them – insofar as what he did caused serious worry or distress that made their daily lives worse.”

He was released on bail and will be sentenced on September 16.

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