Broadcaster says the man behind onslaught of abuse ‘crumbled’ when he was tracked down by security team
Stephen Nolan will on Friday reveal details of a second settlement against a troll who targeted the BBC presenter, after agreeing a six-figure settlement with another person who tried to “destroy” him.
On Thursday, the person behind two Twitter accounts — Pastor Jimberoo and Pastor Jimberoo’s Ghost — agreed to pay Mr Nolan the six-figure sum in damages plus legal costs for a “malicious” campaign of false and defamatory allegations.
But the presenter told the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday he isn’t finished yet and is pursuing other trolls.
“I’m going after a number of them. Another settlement will be announced tomorrow, we’re preparing court cases against another two. There are a number of others,” he said.
Mr Nolan had never met the person behind the Pastor Jimberoo accounts but said the anonymous troll “literally crumbled” after a member of the presenter’s personal security team arrived at his house with a legal letter from defamation lawyer Paul Tweed, as well as a file of his abuse “as thick as an Amazon package”.
“I saw his face when he was standing at his front door and was delivered the legal letter. That boy went pale white,” said Mr Nolan.
“I wasn’t there but I saw it. I don’t think he will be daring to do this on any other individual again. I’d never met him or had any interaction with him in my life, yet that guy tried to destroy me."
Asked whether he would keep the settlement, Mr Nolan told BBC Radio Ulster: “I am. I make donations to charity and I don’t tend to make that public. If I do give any of this to charity, I certainly won’t be making it public.”
The second settlement, the details of which will be announced on Friday, is for a lesser amount.
The prominent presenter, known for his Radio Ulster, 5 Live and BBC NI radio and television programmes, said while he hopes trolls will stop as a result of the settlement, he doesn’t think his campaign against them will put others off until social media companies are forced to act.
“Ultimately the only real way it will stop big time is that the social media companies take more responsibility for what’s going on on their platforms,” he said.
Mr Nolan said he took action against this specific troll, who started his targeted abuse in 2021, because he was “trying to bring me down”. “He was trying to get the Nolan Show taken off air, a programme that I truly believe has integrity written all over it — we try to do the right thing and this guy was coming after me personally, my job.
“He wanted me unemployed and wanted to harm my reputation big time and it was vile. It was sustained. When I identified who this guy was, I realised he had a good job, a good standing in the community and yet he was obsessed with me — to the point that every day, he was trying to harm me.”
The presenter admitted he was on occasion “scared” by the abuse but said his employers at the BBC were supportive. He said: “When you’re going home at night and you know someone is trying to hurt you — did it get to me? Yes it did.”
It got to the stage where he felt “helpless” because the criminal law couldn’t protect him, he added.
Mr Nolan knows who the troll is but said he’s a “man of his word” and won’t reveal his identity. The presenter said it took a number of months to reveal the troll’s identity but said he won’t reveal his security team’s methods, which he said will and have been used in other investigations. “This guy spewed all of this vile venom towards me and I sent one of my personal team around to his house, he was delivered a legal letter and he crumbled,” he said.
“He literally crumbled and as soon as he realised his fantasy vicious world was coming into the real world, he was pleading for anonymity, saying it would affect his family, his personal security. He wasn’t thinking of my family but I was thinking of his and I think that makes me a slightly bigger man.”
Asked whether he would meet the troll personally, Mr Nolan told Radio Ulster “I would love to” and said he would like to have his day in court with any future cases, but added he “doesn’t know” if the individual will find the money to pay the damages in the low six figure range easily. If the case had reached a courtroom, he would have received “a lot more”, he added.
The presenter receives abuse on a daily basis but said it “intensified” when “this Pastor idiot created a bit of momentum”, he said. “It depends on what story I’m doing. Northern Ireland is a place where depending on the story, people from one side or the other get very angry with you, and they’re entitled to do that.”
Mr Nolan said the troll has admitted to his solicitor Kevin Winters the petition he created to remove Mr Nolan from the airwaves was “based on lies as well.”
“It was disturbing,” said the presenter. “People are entitled to express a view on me, but I’m trying to hold down a job and I don’t think that means someone can go out and try and destroy me. The more people who were interested in this troll, he thought he was more powerful.”
The troll admitted in a statement via his solicitor he had run a campaign which "involved the systematic dissemination of false and defamatory allegations" against Mr Nolan. In a statement, the man admitted that the claims they made were "totally unsubstantiated and without foundation".
"I unreservedly apologise to Mr Nolan for any distress caused and confirm that the aforesaid Twitter accounts have since been deleted," he added.
Mr Nolan said he recognises it’s not that easy for members of the public who are defamed online and may lack the resources he has to pursue legal action.
“I have one of the best libel lawyers in the world representing me. I know how hard it was to track this guy down but I have Paul Tweed right beside me and supporting me,” he said.
The solicitor also represented Arlene Foster in a case where she was awarded £125,000 sum in damages for a defamatory tweet by celebrity doctor Christian Jessen earlier this year.
"What about someone who is being abused and can’t afford a lawyer? Stormont needs to look at that, politicians were also abused on a daily basis,” Mr Nolan said.