A little while ago I wrote about my “hobby” of people watching on social media. That blog was inspired by the victim statement that Ben Hewis had put out after watching his stalker, a certain Alex Belfield, get sent down for 5 years. I focussed in particular on the self-proclaimed “new media” journalist Anna Brees and her response to Belfield’s conviction.

This week the broadcaster Jeremy Vine bravely posted his victim statement, and just like Ben, Belfield’s congregation launched at him. How staggering to read or hear a witness statement and watch vultures circling around those victims claiming that it wasn’t that bad. I was again struck by the people that failed to grasp the timeframe and enormity of Belfield’s stalking addiction, and how they reduced all the information down to “hurty words”. Now of course what makes this all the more bizarre, is that when those same people are challenged about their thinking on this they get defensive, or rude or block. In other words – just one or two respectfully disagreeing posts send them into a meltdown, yet they fail to grasp the enormity of a barrage of emails, posts, videos, threats etc.

As ever these observations sent me back to Brees who does seem to be having some sort of existential crisis now that the pandemic is dying down. After the initial trial and all the posts supporting the judge’s decision she clearly couldn’t cope when she got called out for defending Belfield. Her story changed from (and I’m paraphrasing), “it’s a tragedy I was at the trial and he shouldn’t have been sent down” (though it should be noted that she was seemingly only at the trial on a particular day), through to “I’m just Alex’s friend, am I not allowed to stick up for him, whilst also being able to condone his actions”.

As she started engaging with people that weren’t her fawning followers she got fixated not on an insulting tweet from Mark Shenton, but on the fact that Jeremy Vine has retweeted it. In fact, Mark got off lightly – but then Mark doesn’t work for the BBC and whilst he’s got a good following on social media, it’s nothing compared to Vine’s. Brees absolutely went for Jeremy claiming that he was now causing her grief, even though he did nothing except retweet somebody else’s post.

Just to recap – the irony is deepened here as my first run-in with Brees was when she blocked me for politely questioning her disinformation narrative, and then screenshot my “blocked” account and literally set her followers onto me calling me dangerous.

One can only assume that mentioning Jeremy Vine’s name in a post got her some good traction though, as she continuously fed into the false narrative of her being victimised by him for a few days, even though he didn’t rise to the bait. Cue all the anti-vax trolls joining Brees and defending her “honour” by rolling out the old trope of him saying that we should basically tie everyone down and vaccinate them. Quick disclaimer here as he actually never said that, and has also posted a brilliant video explaining where that false narrative came from – but as we all know, once these people believe something, god forbid they ever try to find the truth within the story.

Anyway back to this week and Vine posting his victim statement – only for us to see Brees have the audacity to put a post up “begging” him to leave it now. I mean where is the comprehension of the mental torture that Belfield’s victims endured? Why is she trying to silence them? In some cases years and years of abuse and lies, and yet they now have people telling them to get over it? Jeremy Vine did one repost that concerned Brees so much that she went on about it for nearly a week, and has now revisited it. He was getting his good name defamed for years, he endured threats both to him and his family, and yet he’s told, like Ben Hewis weeks before, and like Iain Lee and Philip Dehany. . .and indeed like so many others that have now stepped forward to tell their story that they need to move on. Somehow Brees has spun the story to make Vine’s victim’s account an attack on her!

At one point during all of this she’s even tried to make this about a fight between “new media” and “MSM” – I mean WTAF? She even went so far as to comparative viewing/follower figures as if to make out that Vine was jealous of her success. . . and her followers fell for it? What is wrong with people? She says that she’s tired of it all. . . and then reposts the same video a dozen times in order to get her point across (before deleting them again usually the same evening)

The courage that these people have shown to speak up about what happened to them is staggering, especially given the online abuse that they’re still getting from the cult of Belfield. I was just watching Philip Dehany’s brave video where he owned his HIV status in a bid to turn Belfield’s online blackmail around thereby taking back control of his own story. I mean the courage to do that is immense and proof if proof was needed that Belfield did not win against these people.

So next time the flock that follows Belfield or Brees come for them, I really hope that they all know quite how amazing they are. Similarly the next time that same flock read a self-pitying post by Brees I hope that they can see that they’re being played for follows and traction.

They say that sheep follow the leader and the irony of all these conspiracy theorists claiming that everybody else have been like sheep throughout the pandemic has never ceased to amaze me. If only these hapless followers just engaged their brains and could see that it is they have been played then the online world might start to do a bit of healing. Hurty words reposted in one post are not comparable to a campaign of hate and lies, and if you can’t make that correlation then we really are in trouble as a society moving forward.