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25 Sept 2022

Jeremy Vine ‘disgusted’ by social media companies’ response to stalker’s videos

Jeremy Vine ‘disgusted’ by social media companies’ response to stalker’s videos

Jeremy Vine has accused YouTube and Twitter of failure to act and said his jailed stalker has already released a video promising to return online.

Former BBC local radio presenter Alex Belfield, 42, was jailed for five years and 26 weeks last Friday after being found guilty of waging a campaign against a number of figures from the broadcasting world.

Jurors accepted he caused serious alarm or distress to two victims and found him guilty of “simple” stalking in relation to Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter Mr Vine and theatre blogger Philip Dehany.

Asked about the response of the social media companies, Mr Vine told BBC Two’s Newsnight: “I am amazed at how hard it is to get them to realise. So we went to YouTube and said: ‘Come on, what is going on with his guy? You can’t allow him to just defame’.

“And then we said: ‘OK, there is a libel action now based on that video, that video, that video’ – they still won’t take them down.

“Eventually I have to go through a lawyer, they take down individual videos, and then when he is convicted they demonetise him. But half the videos about me are still up there.

“His technique was to say ‘copy and share’ so you will have someone who takes his video in Moscow and hosts it. It will always be out there, I have got to live with that.

“But the fact that YouTube hosts this stuff, they have no responsibility. They don’t care. They don’t give a toss. Sorry for my language but I am disgusted by their lack of values.

“And Twitter as well. He is in prison and he has still got a Twitter account. What the hell is that about? I don’t understand it.”

Mr Vine said both the victims and their friends had flagged Belfield’s content in a way that was both “continuous” and “constant” and one person even went to YouTube’s headquarters to ask its reception if anything could be done.

“It’s not a mystery to them which are the problem accounts and they just need to take them down,” he said.

He added that Belfield had put out a video “saying he is going to be right back up and running”.

Twitter declined to comment, and YouTube has also been contacted for comment.

Jurors convicted Belfield of four charges committed between 2012 and 2021.

During sentencing, Mr Justice Saini told him: “Your offences are so serious only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

Belfield, who has 357,000 followers on his YouTube channel, The Voice Of Reason, and 43,000 on Twitter, directed his attacks via social media “in highly negative and often abusive terms”, the judge said.

As well as jailing Belfield, Mr Justice Saini issued indefinite restraining orders banning him from contacting his victims.

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