Axed DJ who stalked Radio Northampton’s Bernie Keith and Jeremy Vine branded his boss 'Gonzo' over size of her nose, court hears

Prosecution claims ‘ferocious and relentless abuse’ targeted eight BBC staff

By Adam Dutton (SWNS) and Kevin Nicholls
Thursday, 7th July 2022, 9:34 am

A Radio Northampton presenter was among eight BBC staff bombarded by vile emails, tweets and messages during a “campaign of harassment” by a sacked DJ, a court has heard.

Prosecutor John McGuinness QC told Nottingham Crown Court that Alex Belfield’s lies had a “devastating effect” on Bernie Keith, who presents the mid-morning show on the BBC station.

Belfield, aged 42, is on trial accused of waging a nine year "campaign of harassment" against BBC staff after being axed from his mid-morning show.

Alex Belfield (left) denies stalking eight BBC employees including veteran TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine and Radio Northampton's Bernie Keith (right)

His "ferocious and relentless" abuse was said to have caused victims “serious alarm and distress,” impacting their daily lives.

Mr McGuinness said: “Bernie Keith describes Alex Belfield's lies as having a devastating effect.

“He has had security features added to his home address and drastically reduced his social media presence.”

Radio and TV presenter Jeremy Vine was another of Belfield’s targets.

Belfield, of Mapperley, Nottinghamshire, could be seen smirking and nodding in the dock as some of the messages he was alleged to have sent were read out.

Opening the case, Mr McGuinness claimed Belfield had made a string of "distressing and gratuitous" allegations against his former workmates.

He said: “There are eight counts of stalking which the defendant is charged with – each relating to a different individual.

“Stalking can take more than one form. Perhaps the most recognisable form of stalking is physical – where the stalker follows his victim when they are moving around, or turns up at their house or place of work to confront them.

“The stalking which this case is concerned with of a different type – and is more akin to trolling.

The court was told the first offences took place during Belfield's time at BBC Radio Leeds during his one year stint there between 2010 and 2011.

His ex-boss Rozina Breen, also a former head of news for BBC 5 Live, said she was “mocked and humiliated” by Belfield who branded her Gonzo - a character from The Muppets.

Giving evidence, she told the court how she received between 4,000 to 6,000 emails over a five year period bombarding her with insults.

She claimed he would also send bizarre messages “talking about lingerie shopping with me”.

The court heard previously how veteran broadcaster Mr Vine — who also hosts Channel 5’s Eggheads quiz show — was also subjected to vile insults which left him struggling to eat and sleep, worried that someone would come to his home and attack his family after followers of Belfield sent him threatening messages.

Mr McGuinness said: “Jeremy Vine was particularly distressed by Alex Belfield’s threats to pay people to harass him.

“One effect of Alex Belfield broadcasting his accusations to a wider audience was that when Jeremy Vine paid an online tribute to his father.

“A follower of Alex Belfield sent him a Facebook message that said: 'Did your father know his son was a thieving toe rag?' – something that Jeremy Vine found deeply hurtful.”

Belfield, who is representing himself, denies all charges. The trial continues.