Jeremy Vine broke down in tears today as he told a court that he feared his family could be targeted by a knife or acid attacker following an alleged trolling campaign by a YouTuber.
The TV host got emotional as he described the “avalanche of hatred” allegedly unleashed on him by ex- BBC presenter Alex Belfield.
He said he put up a photo of Belfield in his hallway in case he turned up on his doorstep and warned his daughters about the threat, writes The Mirror.
The court heard Belfield falsely accused Mr Vine in 2020 of stealing £1,000 from a memorial fund for radio legend John Myers.
He then repeated the claim in videos on his YouTube channel and asked his viewers to ring the presenter’s phone-in shows, it is claimed.
Mr Vine described the alleged stalking as “serious criminality” and said watching the videos was “like swimming in sewage”.
He told jurors he had previously been physically stalked by someone else, but said that was “a picnic compared” to Belfield’s alleged harassment.
“This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling,” the BBC and Channel 5 presenter said.
“It launched incredible hatred on my Twitter and Facebook pages.
“I had between 5,000 and 10,000 hateful tweets caused by Belfield. With 500,000 followers can you imagine the hatred that drives to me?
“I was able to trace the source of their hatred back to his videos. It all came from Belfield.”
Mr Vine said he was left stressed and unable to sleep after being subjected to “Olympic-level” stalking by Belfield.
“I was shredded, my nerves were shredded, I was anxious, I couldn’t sleep or eat for a time,” he said.
“I felt wounded and felt there was absolutely no escape. You go to bed thinking about it, you wake up thinking about it.
“It was such a crazy lie. None of it was true. I just was brought so low.
“I have two daughters, they are 18 and 15 now. Anna was 13 at the time this happened.
“I had to sit her and her sister down and tell them about the situation.
“I said this man hates me, he has accused me of stealing, he has driven so much hatred towards me so we are going to have to be careful.
“We had a picture of him in our hallway.
“We thought it was possible that one of his half a million followers could have a knife or acid or something.
“Imagine telling a 13-year-old that. She was in tears, I saw her just shrink.
“She is his victim as well and he does not even know her name.
“There’s a good deal of stalking in broadcasting, but none of my friends in the industry has seen anything like this.
“This is Olympic-level stalking.”
Mr Vine said he had extra cameras installed inside and outside his home over fears of being attack.
“The thing that really kept me awake was there will be one person waiting for someone to come out of my house,” he said.
“If it’s me, fair enough. If it’s my daughter, no.”
Mr Vine said he was alerted to Belfield’s YouTube videos by someone in the radio industry who sent him a link to his channel.
In one clip played to the jury Belfield branded Mr Vine and fellow BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire “c**ts”.
“I think it’s disgusting to say Victoria Derbyshire is a c**t, I think it’s disgusting to say I am,” said Mr Vine.
“I found it shocking and distressing and it made me worried.
“I took a view that he was very, very nasty. I noticed the sheer level of malice directed towards people without a public profile.
“I realised for the first time we are dealing with serious criminality. It’s been on and on and on for me.
“I thought this guy is dangerous. These videos are still online.
“In a thousand years time my great, great grandchildren will see stories about how I stole £1,000 and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Mr Vine said he was “dreading” Belfield getting in touch with his elderly mother to repeat the theft slurs.
“My mum had been widowed, I’m assuming he probably had her number, I was dreading him getting in touch with her,” he said.
“The dread became my life. I thought this is never going to stop.”
He broke down in tears as he told jurors how a troll targeted an online tribute he made to his dad, who died from Parkinson’s in 2018.
“His comment was, ‘What would your father have said if he knew his son was a thieving toe rag?’ I couldn’t handle it,” he said.
“I got in touch with the person who posted this and asked how could you post that on a tribute to my father.
“He said, ‘I watch Belfield’s channel, I thought it was true.’ He then took it down.
“I went to the police with it and I had to tell my mum to watch out for this guy. She was 83.
“He does not think about the harm, and how the harm and the damage stays.
Belfield, 42, a former BBC Radio Leeds presenter from Mapperley, Nottingham, denies eight counts of stalking between 2012 and March last year.
The trial continues.
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