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Former manager says alleged stalking by ex-BBC DJ left her feeling violated

Ex-BBC presenter Alex Belfield is on trial at Nottingham Crown Court charged with stalking corporation staff members (Jacob King/PA)
Ex-BBC presenter Alex Belfield is on trial at Nottingham Crown Court charged with stalking corporation staff members (Jacob King/PA)

One of eight alleged stalking victims of a former BBC Radio Leeds DJ has told a jury she was left feeling as though she had a noose around her neck.

Rozina Breen, the BBC’s former Head of North, told Nottingham Crown Court she had asked for a screen to be put between her and Alex Belfield because it was “terrifying” being in the same room as him.

Belfield denies waging a nine-year campaign of stalking after his one-year mid-morning show contract was not renewed by BBC Radio Leeds in 2011.

Prosecutors allege that the 42-year-old, who now hosts a radio station on YouTube, caused serious alarm or distress to Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine, former BBC Radio Leeds mid-morning show host Stephanie Hirst, and BBC Radio Northampton’s Bernie Keith.

Alex Belfield court case
Ex-BBC presenter Alex Belfield arrives at Nottingham Crown Court (Jacob King/PA)

Belfield, of Mapperley, Nottingham, is also accused of stalking five other victims, including Ms Breen.

She told the court on Wednesday that Belfield had wrongly blamed her for ruining his career while posting videos in which she was subjected to foul-mouthed abuse.

Asked by the Crown’s QC to sum up the impact of Belfield’s conduct, Ms Breen told the court: “It feels like a noose around my neck that every now and then tightens when he wants me to know that he is still there.”

Belfield had cast aspersions on her reputation while referring to his time at BBC Radio Leeds, Ms Breen said, adding: “I have an app on my phone that is an emergency app that I was told to put on my phone by BBC security.

“I had the head of BBC security come to my house to do a ‘recce’ of how safe it is.

“I have had to talk to my children about not following me on social media.”

The complainant, who no longer works for the BBC, said she dreaded the day when her children asked her about “vile” comments made about her on social media.

She continued: “I have never been called the c-word before. Nine years after he had left, to hear that about yourself was deeply unpleasant.”

Ms Breen, who is now chairwoman of the board at Leeds Playhouse, said she had been forced to consider the impact of Belfield’s conduct when she was asked to take up the post.

Giving evidence in a witness box screened off by a curtain, she told the jury: “I had to, in my current job, tell the board what was happening so that they were reassured I was a good person for the job.

“At every stage in my life it’s there. Not just in my head but on video, in my inbox.

“I worry about when I go out to public events, whether he will be there. I asked for a screen to be put in place because it’s terrifying to be put in the same room.

“My private social space feels like it’s being violated. You think somebody is over your shoulder about to take a screengrab of something.”

Ms Breen, who has sought counselling to deal with the effects of stalking, went on: “The sense of violation is deep. I don’t deserve it – I didn’t ruin his career, I gave him a great opportunity.

“He takes every opportunity to let me know that he knows what I am doing. That to all intents and purposes has changed me.

“I don’t go anywhere without wondering if he might turn up. It’s a sentence. I have not asked for it and I don’t deserve it.”

The jury has heard that Belfield believes he was the subject of a witch hunt and was “a whistle-blower and a thorn in the BBC’s side.”

The trial continues.