TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine has said a former BBC Radio Leeds presenter accused of stalking him is “the Jimmy Savile of trolling”.
Vine, who is well known for his shows on BBC Radio 2 and Channel Five, began giving evidence in a court trial of broadcaster Alex Belfield, saying he was targeted by an “avalanche of hatred”.
Prosecutors allege that Belfield, 42, caused serious alarm or distress to Vine, former BBC Radio Leeds mid-morning show host Stephanie Hirst, and BBC Radio Northampton’s Bernie Keith.
“This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling,” Vine told a jury in Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday.
Opening the Crown’s case against Belfield, prosecutor John McGuinness QC said Vine was subjected to a “constant bombardment” of harassing tweets and YouTube videos in 2020.
Referring to videos shown in court from Belfield’s YouTube show, Vine said he wishes he had not watched some of the content.
He said: “I wished I hadn’t. Watching this man is like swimming in sewage.”
“The first time I saw Alex Belfield, or heard his name, was when he uploaded a commentary on me that referred to me as a c***.
‘Shocking’ and ‘dangerous’, says Vine
He continued: “I thought, ‘It’s absolutely disgusting.’
“I found it shocking and distressing and it made me worried.”
He added: “I thought, ‘This guy is dangerous.’
“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.”
Eight counts of stalking
At one point, Vine, who stood in the witness box wearing a blue suit, lighter blue striped shirt and navy tie, said: “I note the defendant is smirking throughout my evidence. It won’t stop me.”
The court was told Belfield, of Mapperley, Nottingham, started out as a broadcast assistant on local radio and in recent years set up a YouTube channel known as Celebrity Radio.
He denies eight counts of stalking alleged to have been committed between 2012 and 2021, including three counts relating to two managers and another presenter who worked at BBC Radio Leeds.
The trial continues.