Alex Belfield, a right-wing provocateur who now hosts a show on YouTube, waged a relentless nine-year campaign of stalking against eight victims after BBC Radio Leeds did not renew his contract in 2011.
One of the victims – TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine – told a trial at Nottingham Crown Court that 42-year-old Belfield was “the Jimmy Savile of trolling”.
The court was told Belfield repeatedly posted or sent mocking and abusive social media messages, videos and emails after his one-year contract was not renewed.
Belfield, of Mapperley, Nottingham, had denied causing serious alarm or distress to Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter Mr Vine, former BBC Radio Leeds mid-morning show host Stephanie Hirst, BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith and five other people.
But he was convicted on four counts on Friday after jurors deliberated for 14 hours and 27 minutes.
Prosecutor John McGuinness QC said Mr Vine was subjected to a “constant bombardment” of harassing tweets and YouTube videos in 2020.
The presenter, the court heard, faced a wave of abuse online after false and entirely baseless claims were made relating to the supposed theft of £1,000.
The court also heard Ms Hirst felt the conduct against her had been sickening, misogynistic and transphobic, while Mr Keith said the alleged stalking had a devastating effect and had prompted him to install additional home security.
Mr McGuinness told the court the offences began in November 2012 – a year after Belfield’s one-year contract at BBC Radio Leeds was not renewed.
The Crown alleged Belfield “wasn’t prepared to move on” after leaving the BBC and became disgruntled by what he perceived to be unfair treatment from his managers.
However, Belfield told the court he was the victim of a “witch-hunt” and a “pile-on” by broadcasters.
The YouTube radio host opted not to give evidence in his defence before giving a closing speech claiming he was a whistle-blower who had seen two-and-a-half years of his life “torn apart” by police inquiries.
Giving evidence in court, Mr Keith said his reputation was “now in shreds” after “proclamations of hate” and death threats, which have affected his health.
But Belfield denied making death threats to anyone, adding: “I think lockdown made it fun to close me down… because I am the only person in lockdown who actually became more successful.
“My channel took off during lockdown because people were lonely – I became their voice of reason.
“Had there been a death threat there is absolutely no way the BBC would have thrown them in the bin.”