Emily Maitlis: being stalked is “like a chronic illness”

The BBC newsreader spoke of her fears that the perpetrator will "never stop"

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Emily Maitlis has spoken about the impact being stalked has had on her life, saying that she fears the perpetrator will “never stop”.

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Edward Vines breached a restraining order and was recently jailed for writing to Maitlis from prison. Vines, who was sentenced to 45 months in prison, met Maitlis when they were studying at Cambridge University. Now the journalist has compared suffering from harassment for two decades to being “like a chronic illness.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live’s Emma Barnett Show, Maitlis said that the situation “makes you jumpy – and that’s stressful and it’s tiring and it’s time-consuming.

“Your head is somewhere else and you’re having to think about things that are just ludicrous, like ‘how do you get in and out of your front door’ and ‘how are they getting back from school?’

“It’s not that you think everyone is out to kill you,” she continued. “You recognise it as a paranoia. But it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Explaining that the harassment had been continuing for 20 years, Maitlis said: “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.”

The 47-year-old added that she also believed Vines to be a victim in the situation.

“Whatever treatment he’s had isn’t working as a cure…he is unwell and has wasted half his life.

Emily Maitlis
Emily Maitlis (Getty)

“Stalking is a weirdo glamorised term for what is essentially mental ill-health and so somewhere along the lines we have to change the mechanism.”

The Newsnight presenter is married to banker Mark Gwynne with whom he has two children. She said it was “weird for the kids to have to see this stuff.”

“My job is just to keep things really normal at home,” she added. “I remember the first time the police came round and they pulled my husband aside and said ‘You’re the one we’re worried about here’. Apparently there is a very natural course of behaviour, that the husband just goes out and decks the guy.

“Then of course you’re in the worst possible position because your own husband is serving time instead of the perpetrator.”

Maitlis also said that it was “punishing” and “humiliating” to repeatedly explain the story to different police and people in authority, and that 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,” she explained.

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“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.”