TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine has given evidence in court against a former BBC broadcaster accused of stalking, describing how he was targeted with an “avalanche of hatred”.
Vine, who presents shows on BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5, spoke at Nottingham crown court during the trial of former BBC Radio Leeds presenter Alex Belfield.
Vine said Belfield had waged a campaign of abuse against him via social media and YouTube.
He told a jury: “This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling.”
Referring to videos shown in court from Belfield’s YouTube show, Vine said he wished he had not watched some of the content.
He said: “Watching this man is like swimming in sewage.
“I thought, ‘It’s absolutely disgusting’ … I found it shocking and distressing and it made me worried.”
Vine told the court he had previously been targeted by a stalker who had physically followed him in real life but said that person was “a picnic” compared with Belfield.
At one point, Vine said: “I note the defendant is smirking throughout my evidence. It won’t stop me.”
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.
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.
The court was told Belfield, of Mapperley, Nottingham, started out as a broadcast assistant on local radio and in recent years had 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.
Vine said: “It felt like I had a fish hook in my face and my flesh was being torn and the only way to avoid further pain was to stay completely still.
“I was brought so low. I just thought, ‘There’s no point broadcasting if the effect is that I’ve got this’.”
He told the court he had received 5,000 to 10,000 hateful tweets after the defendant’s comments.
The case was adjourned until Thursday.