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Some Notes on Alex Belfield and Andrew Bridgen MP

From a Sunday Times article about former BBC radio presenter Alex Belfield, who last week received a long jail sentence for stalking several individuals:

While he was tormenting his victims with online abuse, Belfield, who has nine employees, was estimated to be making £528,000 a year from his YouTube channel, The Voice of Reason — although Google has now stopped his channel carrying advertising. It carried nasty and sometimes misogynistic, racist or homophobic content, but he also interviewed famous names such as Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, and had defenders including the Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who wrote to the then home secretary Priti Patel last year about Belfield’s treatment.

Last weekend, Belfield — by then a convicted stalker — performed alongside the right-wing controversialist Katie Hopkins at the Joe Longthorne Theatre in Blackpool, at a gig titled Two Gobshites Live, which promised to be “not PC but totally LOL”.

Brigden wrote to Patel in May 2021, stating:

It appears that the source of all of the unsubstantiated allegations made to Nottingham Police against him emanate from staff or former staff of the BBC.

Quotes from the letter were published in the Sunday Express as an anti-BBC story headlined “Broadcaster Alex Belfield arrested FIVE times and strip-searched in ‘BBC witch-hunt'”. This was shortly after Belfield had been questioned regarding a hoax bomb threat to the BBC that apparently remains unsolved to this day. It is unclear whether Belfield was able to corroborate his claim of a strip-search, although the Express treated it as fact. Bridgen also commented on Twitter:

As I’ve been warning for years, the BBC has huge power and authority without adequate accountability, which led to many scandals including Jimmy Savile Martin Bashir and their ongoing attacks on Alex Belfield, we’re all forced under threat of criminal prosecution to pay for this

Belfield’s highest-profile victim was the TV presenter Jeremy Vine; there were also seven other complainants, although in four cases the jury did not not convict. This leaves the regrettable impression that it is easier for a celebrity to achieve protection and justice than ordinary people, although without fuller details we can only speculate. I certainly would not hestitate to regard all of the complainants as being Belfield’s victims, as well as other individuals he has been accused of targeting, such as the broadcaster Iain Lee.

The judge’s sentencing remarks can be read here. The judge told Belfield that he accepted that “in certain limited respects you were acting as a form of media commentator in stating views on matters of public interest when you made some of your communications.” However, he added, “even accepting the latitude our laws give to those exercising free speech rights, on the jury’s verdicts you exceeded the generous margins.”

Belfield sent one victim “repeated abusive communications directly”, made “the false and scandalous accusation” that he “had regularly had sex in public on gay beaches with strangers”, and also made “false allegations that he had mental health issues”. In another case, he used images of his victim’s wife and child, and “attached an image of a foetal scan to an email and attempted to contact his wife”. In the third case Belfield “made false representations as to intended legal action”, “went as far as calling his mother” and “sought to in effect blackmail him by revealing details of a long spent conviction”. As regards Jeremy Vine, Belfield falsely alleged fraud, and “actively encouraged others to contact Mr Vine during his broadcasts to pursue the baseless allegation of theft of public money”.

It is interesting to see here malicious false allegations dealt with not merely as civil libel causing loss of reputation, but as criminal harassment causing alarm and distress. It should be noted that this was all done openly by Belfield under his own name; beyond the court case, however, there is also reason to suspect that he engaged in harassment via sockpuppeting and trolling. As Iain Lee writes:

for the last few weeks I’ve been getting the most obnoxious responses to my YT videos from someone calling themselves SarahEverardsRapists – you’d be hard pushed to make up a more offensive name

Alex Belfield goes to prison. Those posts stop
Obviously him

Presumably Andrew Bridgen was unaware of all this when he advocated on Belfield’s behalf last year, but he called in to Belfield’s YouTube channel as recently as three months ago (on the subject of “Is Boris Finished?”), which was some time after Belfield had been charged. If Bridgen now regrets his association with a man whose unreasonable conduct has been a matter of undisputed public knowledge since long before his conviction, there is no public evidence of it (1). One wonders if other recent high-profile callers also wish they had been more circumspect.

Belfield’s output also included conspiracy content on subjects such as 5G and Covid vaccination, and even now he retains some support among conspiricists. The pop-music duo Right Said Fred are of the view that is it a “mistake… to think hurty stuff said online is a ‘crime'”, and commentators such as David Kurten and Paul Joseph Watson similiarly deploy ironic quote marks around “online stalking” and “online harassment”.

UPDATE: The following posts on Twitter come from a pseudonymous account, but there is no reason not to take them at face value:

The fact is @ABridgen MP had every opportunity to be aware of all this. I emailed him on 25th March 2021 at his parliamentary email address with very extensive notes on Belfield’s public activity AND the bullying troll accounts he denies links to, but operated from his home & admin’d his YouTube phone-in. There’s pic proof Belfield lied re links. Homo/transphobia, mental health slurs, suicide goading all listed to Bridgen. I wrote again 31/3/21: “I am sorry that Alex Belfield is continuing to associate himself publicly with having your support”.

UPDATE 2: A Katie Hopkins parody Twitter account claims that it was approached by Anna Brees (see note below), Brees apparently believing that that the account was controlled by Hopkins. According to a screenshot, Brees wanted to know where Belfield was imprisoned, and wrote “I’ve messaged asking his barrister and I’m asking you. Ive asked Andrew Bridgen”. Brees remains supportive of Belfield (albeit with some caveats), and perhaps unwisely she appears to have replied to Tweets by Belfield’s victims with links to his videos.

Note

1. Bridgen also has other links with the conspiracy milieu: in 2021 he was criticised after giving an interview to Anna Brees, and her former associate Jon Wedger previously claimed in 2018 that Bridgen had “made contact” with him. There is also a photo of Wedger and fellow Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy fanatic Jeanette Archer sitting at an outside café table with an unidentified man whose appearance from the rear is consistent with Bridgen. He has also previously advocated on behalf of disgraced former chief constable Mike Veale.

One Response

  1. Sadly Mr Bellfield’s later actions seem more deranged than criminal.

    So we’re criminalising and imprisoning yet more people who need help.

    The real qustion is who drove him to this state?

    His “victims”?

    With the help of the authorities?!

    And the legacy and anti-social media!!!

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