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Stephen Nolan: I'll sue vile internet trolls over malicious fake image

Stephen Nolan.

BBC presenter Stephen Nolan has vowed to sue vicious internet trolls behind an online smear campaign.

The award-winning broadcaster has hired lawyers to pursue individuals who circulated a distorted image of him larking about with a guest on his hit TV show in 2016.

He and a male guest were stripped to their underwear in a zany skit about the broadcaster making a modelling debut.

A screengrab from the show image was manipulated to falsely imply that he had been behaving inappropriately while out of the country recently.

As the presenter spoke of his hurt, it was revealed that he had to call in police after a Scottish stalker who claimed to be his girlfriend flew to Belfast to confront him at his workplace.

Mr Nolan (44) said last night: "I have been the victim of a malicious social media campaign this week.

"Internet trolls distorted a television image and then nastily and falsely used it to suggest I had been acting inappropriately in a foreign country.

"In actual fact, the real image was from my Nolan Live TV programme, of me in November 2016 on BBC Northern Ireland television, in my capacity as a TV presenter with a guest on my show."

Mr Nolan spoke of the hurt the malicious fake image had caused - and warned that his legal team were monitoring all those who had liked, shared or retweeted the distressing picture.

"18 months later, the TV images were then twisted and distorted into lies by internet trolls.

"Those lies were then spread across social media this week with falsehood, in order to hurt me and cause me distress.

"It is an extraordinary level of malicious vindictiveness," the presenter said.

"For those who retweeted or liked or shared the defamation, they too are vicious trolls who are no better than the keyboard warriors who created it.

"My legal team has logged those cowards who shared, liked, retweeted or commented on this defamatory personal attack against me.

"If they want to apologise, they would be wise to email my lawyer very quickly at ptweed@tweedlaw.co.uk."

The campaigning broadcaster said he would - on behalf of all victims of online bullying - use all his strength and resources to pursue the trolls who had defamed him "so that they cannot bully anyone else."

Today we can also reveal that this is not the first time Nolan has had to deal with internet lies.

A source said the TV presenter had to call in the PSNI after an online stalker from Great Britain began harassing him.

The Scottish woman bombarded both the BBC and Mr Nolan with multiple phone calls and messages every day. It went on for months, with her claiming to have been his girlfriend. She would post lies about him online, which he ignored.

But the situation dramatically escalated when the stalker flew over from her home in Scotland to surprise Nolan at his workplace.

A source said: "Stephen was parking in front of the BBC and was suddenly confronted at his car by this stalker screaming at him that she loved him.

"When he refused to speak to her, she got aggressive and nasty. Stephen gets a lot of people contacting and talking about him on the internet, but he was genuinely fearful for his safety when this woman flew over and located him.

"There is a huge difference between a keyboard warrior and someone buying a plane ticket and tracking him down to falsely claim that they were his girlfriend. "Stephen said at the time that it was an example of internet lies becoming a nightmare in real life.

"Police forces in Scotland and Northern Ireland were involved in the case and had to intervene to protect Stephen.

"It was a frightening, dangerous situation and Stephen had to bring in security protocols when he was travelling to and from work.

"The stalker had built up an online obsession with him and then harassed him in the real world."

Last night, Mr Nolan thanked the many friends, colleagues and politicians who have contacted him to offer their support in fighting the internet trolls targeting him.

He also thanked his fans, saying : "Finally, I need to thank the Northern Ireland listeners and viewers who have bombarded me with support this week.

"I have a very special relationship with you - even those of you who I wind up! - and the only way I can pay you back is by me continuing to fight for your voices to be heard on radio and TV."

Mr Nolan is in the the USA on a BBC project, and is due to return next week.

Belfast Telegraph