Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis has told of her anguish after her former university friend who harassed her for more than 20 years was jailed.
Ms Maitlis said she had been let down by the criminal justice system and Edward Vines’s unwanted attention had a devastating impact on her family, likening it to a ‘sort of chronic illness’.
Vines, 47, was jailed on Tuesday by a judge at Oxford Crown Court for 45 months after admitting two breaches of an indefinite restraining order banning him from contacting the BBC journalist.
Speaking to the BBC the presenter said she fears her stalker will never stop harassing her and described her frustrations with the legal system after Vines was able to write letters to her while serving a previous prison sentence for earlier breaches of the restraining order.
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has revealed how being stalked for more than 20 years by Edward Vines (right) affected her marriage with husband Mark Gwynne (left)
The BBC Newsnight presenter said she felt ‘let down’ that Edward Vines could send her letters from prison
Ms Maitlis described this as ‘bizarre beyond belief’, adding: ‘It was something that should never have got through, but it is extraordinary to think a stalker behind bars for corresponding can then carry on corresponding.’
The government apologised to Ms Maitlis after Vines was able to write to her from prison.
He had then written again while out on licence and under the supervision of probation services.
Oxford Crown Court heard one letter ended with Vines saying ‘I will not relent until you talk to me.’
Judge Peter Ross said the fact Vines was able to send letters to Ms Maitlis from inside Bullingdon Prison and from approved probation premises was ‘something of a scandal’ and demanded answers from the governor and probation service within 10 days.
When he was released, Vines ramped up his campaign and bombarded her with more creepy messages.
Ms Maitlis said that on an individual basis, authorities and police had been ‘really caring and helpful’ but there was a lack of co-ordination when dealing with victims.
‘You give a statement and you give an impact statement; you’ve got a prosecution and you’ve got a custodial sentence, and it’s been meted out – and then 12 months later it happens all over again.
‘By that time it’s a different policeman or a different investigator or people have changed jobs and somebody turns up at your house and says ‘Right so what’s all this about?’ or ‘Where did it all begin?’, and for somebody who’s been through this to have to relive that, it’s punishing and it’s humiliating.’
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis said she had been let down by the criminal justice system
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Emma Barnett Show, she said the stalking had been going on for two decades.
She said: ‘It just makes you jumpy – and that’s stressful and it’s tiring and it’s time-consuming.
‘It’s not that you think everyone is out to kill you. You recognise it as a paranoia. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
‘This has literally been going on for 20 years. It feels like sort of a chronic illness.
‘It’s not that I ever believe it will stop or he will stop, or the system will manage to prevent it properly.’
She added: ‘You turn into this person who shouts at your kids for the wrong thing.’
In a previous interview with Times Magazine she said: ‘There is a weariness to it. It feels never-ending. His life is ruined; I try to blank it. It’s a heaviness that sits on you, and when he comes back it’s dreadful. I get calls at all times of the day and night. It feels desperately sad. I can’t see how it will end.’
Describing Vines, who she first met as a student in their first year at Queen’s College, Cambridge, in 1989, she said: ‘Whatever treatment he’s had isn’t working as a cure and he is obviously also a victim in this.