‘Scared and let down’ Emily Maitlis attacks system as man jailed for harassment
The Newsnight presenter said Edward Vines’s 20-year campaign of harassment had upset her family and affected her career.
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has criticised the criminal justice system for letting a former university friend continue his 20-year campaign of harassment against her.
Obsessive Edward Vines, 47, has stalked the BBC journalist since they were both students at Cambridge University in the mid-1990s.
Vines was jailed again – this time for 45 months – as he continued to breach his restraining order by writing to Ms Maitlis from prison and his bail hostel.
The TV presenter said Vines’s unwanted attention was upsetting her husband, scaring her children and was affecting her work.
At Oxford Crown Court, Judge Peter Ross demanded written explanations from both the probation service and the governor at HMP Bullingdon as to how Vines was able to continue offending, describing it as “inexcusable and wholly unacceptable” and a “scandal”.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Maitlis, who was not in court, said: “When I heard that Edward Vines had breached his restraining order I felt scared and let down.
“Scared because it meant that even from within the prison system the perpetrator was able to reach me – let down because the system had been unable to stop him getting in touch even though the crime he is serving time for is harassment through unwanted and ongoing contact.
“Altogether the breach has been a reminder for me that this man remains a constant threat in my life and my family’s life and that my ability to do my work, hang out with my children and lead a normal family life without a constant sense of suspicion and fear has been badly damaged.”
Vines breached the restraining order the first time between November 28 and December 15 2016 while in prison, and a second time, between September 16 and 22 2017, while he was living in a bail hostel on licence.
Prosecutor Julian Lynch said both letters were addressed to the presenter at BBC Broadcasting House – but were intercepted by the corporation’s security staff and she never received them.
“In the letters he complains about her behaviour towards him at Cambridge and says that his trials have been unfair,” Mr Lynch said.
“The second letter consists of three separate pieces of paper and continues with the same complaints.
“It was signed off with: ‘I will not relent until you talk to me’.”
Another set of letters to Ms Maitlis were seized by police from the hostel where Vines was living, in which he apologises to her.
“I am really sorry that I have harmed and upset you. It was not my intention,” he said.
The court heard that Vines has served several prison sentences for breaching the indefinite restraining order.
Mr Lynch said Vines suffered from mental health problems, but added: “The view of the psychiatrists is that his obsession with Ms Maitlis is different to the issues of his mental health.”
Defending himself, Vines, of Clarks Row, Oxford, described the views Ms Maitlis expressed in her victim impact statement as “all new to me”.
“I think the whole issue can be resolved if she would talk to me. That has not happened since 1995 and she has not spoken to me since then,” he said.
“I think I have been through enough and a lengthy prison sentence is not going to help. I do not think I am going to write to her again.”
Judge Ross, who previously jailed Vines for three years in 2016, said: “It is clear to me that you are not prepared to accept one simple and absolute truth – that Emily Maitlis does not want anything to do with you, nothing whatsoever, and the passage of 20 years has still not convinced you of that.
“It has affected her family life, scaring her children and affecting her ability to do her work. No one should have to live like that, whether they are public figures or not.
“This sort of harassment has a crippling effect on the victim. It is disgraceful conduct, it is psychological torture.”
The judge said Vines should never have been allowed to breach the restraining order in prison and said should have been recalled to continue his sentence when he further offended.
“The fact this man was allowed to offend within a prison is something of a scandal,” he said.
“He was a man who offended in custody but in probation-approved premises. It is beyond comprehension why steps were not taken to recall this man.”