Jeremy Vine has slammed social media companies for failing to take action against online hate following the jailing of stalker Alex Belfield.
Companies such as YouTube and Twitter had no moral value, broadcaster BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5 said.
Belfield, a former BBC Radio Leeds presenter, was jailed for five years and 26 weeks on Friday after being found guilty by a jury of harassing broadcasters including Vine, subjecting his victims to “an avalanche of hate”.
The judge, Judge Saini, said Belfield’s actions were not traditional harassment, but “were just as effective in intimidating victims and, in many ways, much more difficult to deal with”.
He referenced witnesses who said Belfield had “weaponized the internet”, describing it as “an entirely apt description of your conduct”.
Vine described Belfield as “the Jimmy Savile of trolling” and said watching Belfield’s YouTube videos was “like swimming in sewage”.
He told a court: ‘I was brought down so low. I just thought, ‘There’s no point broadcasting if the effect is that I have this.’
Speaking to The Sunday TimesVine slammed social media platforms including YouTube and Twitter.
“We had to get lawyers to get his shit taken down, and even then it’s tough,” Vine said.
“Companies just say no. They have no moral value.
Vine said it was a “scandal” that Belfield could report his own case on YouTube and said the law is still catching up with new technology.
Belfield had 360,000 subscribers on his Voice of Reason YouTube channel and 43,000 on Twitter. The judge said Belfield directed his attacks via social media “in very negative and often abusive terms”.
His goal was, in his own words, to “haunt” his victims, and he deployed his “army of followers” to send abusive messages to those targeted, Saini said.
“Online stalkers like you have the ability to recruit an army of followers whose conduct massively extends the effect of your harassment,” he said.
“You have made communications that have had a serious impact on the privacy of the complainants, with devastating effects on their mental and physical health.
“You have the right to hold and express opinions, but you do not have the right to destroy the personal lives of your victims through online harassment.”
Belfield was found guilty in August of harassing Vine and three others after a five-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
Last Saturday, Belfield – then a convicted stalker – performed alongside Katie Hopkins at the Joe Longthorne Theater in Blackpool. The show was called Two Gobshites Live.
“Alex & Katie is the perfect night out if you want to laugh at the craziness of our leftist world,” the blurb said.
“They are not PC but totally LOL.
“Watch them mercilessly ridicule everyone from politicians to celebrities in this EXCLUSIVE two-hour seaside special.”
Belfield was also found guilty of harassing BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith, who felt suicidal by a “tsunami of hate”, the court heard. His other victims are theater blogger Philip Dehany and videographer Ben Hewis.
Vine told The Sunday Times harassment was common for broadcasters. “Of my three best friends at the BBC, all have had bullies. I think bullying is the industrial disease of broadcasting.
YouTube said it suspended monetization on Belfield’s channel – because it is not allowed to run advertising – in February. It was for violating its harassment policy.
A spokesperson said: “Monetization on the Voice of Reason channel remains suspended for violating our Creator Liability Policy. If we find that a creator’s off-platform behavior is harming our users, our community, our employees, or our ecosystem, we take action to protect the community.
A Twitter spokesperson said it had no comment.