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Emily Maitlis accused 'broke restraining order to seek explanation'

Published 05/09/2016

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis spurned his advances at university, a court heard
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis spurned his advances at university, a court heard

A former university friend of BBC presenter Emily Maitlis has told jurors he only broke a restraining order relating to her because she "owed" him an explanation over the breakdown of their friendship.

Edward Vines, 46, said he had exhausted all legal avenues - including seeking to overturn a conviction for harassment in 2002 - before contacting the journalist and newsreader, allegedly breaching the order.

Giving evidence at Oxford Crown Court, where he denies two charges of breaching a restraining order imposed in January 2009 preventing him from contacting the Newsnight presenter or her family, Vines said he had "a reasonable excuse" after his requests for an explanation were ignored by the "cruel and unkind" television personality.

Vines, who met Maitlis in October 1989 during their first term at Cambridge University's Queen's College, said their friendship only broke down several months after he told her he had romantic feelings for her, in January 1990, and that initially the pair remained in contact.

He said: "By Christmas I had fallen in love and I felt compelled to tell her that almost as soon as we got back to college.

"We remained friends throughout the whole of the Easter term. She wrote to me over the Easter holidays, letters which I still have.

"But in April it changed dramatically, in my eyes. She appeared to not to want to see me. She occasionally put me down in small ways, but nonetheless hurtful ways."

Vines, whose address was given as Grosvenor Road in Oxford, said the breakdown triggered mental health problems, including manic depression.

He told jurors: "Some days I would sink into a slump of despondency in relation to the scorn and belittling attitude I believe she has shown me."

Vines is alleged to have sent two letters to the journalist and emails and letters to her mother, Marion Maitlis, between May 10 and June 26 last year, breaching the order.

He claimed to police that he felt he had a reasonable excuse to write to Ms Maitlis to resolve what he referred to as a "mystery" because he had exhausted all legal means.

Vines, who was flanked in the dock by nurses from the secure hospital where he resides, said: "Emily is a very complicated person herself and she was not forthcoming at all regarding the reasons behind her unkind behaviour towards me at Cambridge.

"Her ambivalent attitude to me meant we didn't resolve it.

"Emily and I have not sat down with other people to sort it out. I believe she is being unreasonable.

"I feel it's reasonable to seek justice in this way and reasonable to ask Emily if she would undertake sensible discussions.

"It's a mystery to me. Why would Emily, so warm and friendly to me, suddenly go cold on me solely because I was in love with her? If that was the case she would have done so in January."

He accused Ms Maitlis, who was not present in court, of "exaggerated" and "false testimony" which resulted in his initial conviction in 2002.

He said: "She owes me more than she has offered in terms of explaining her cruel and unkind behaviour."

Vines' previous convictions included breaches of restraining orders in 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014 and also earlier this year, for which he awaits sentence, jurors have been told.

The charges Vines now faces relate only to the letters he sent last year, which prosecutor Julian Lynch described as "long and rambling".

Vines, wearing a mustard yellow suit and blue shirt and tie, told the court he would not breach the restraining order if convicted by jurors, because his defence will have been "tried and tested".

Defence counsel Greg Foxsmith, described his client as "highly intelligent", and added: "Ms Maitlis has a glittering career. Mr Vines - a less fulfilled life."

Judge Peter Ross asked the jury to consider whether Vines had reasonable excuse to breach the restraining order. Jurors were sent out to consider their verdicts shortly before 3pm.

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