Sentencing delayed for man who harassed Emily Maitlis after failed bid over plea

A former university friend of Emily Maitlis who has harassed the BBC journalist for more than two decades has had his sentencing delayed after a failed bid to change his plea.

Edward Vines told Oxford Crown Court he had "changed his mind" since admitting two counts of breaching a restraining order not to contact the Newsnight presenter, at a hearing in November.

The court heard Vines, who met Ms Maitlis when they were both students at Cambridge University and has spent more than 25 years bombarding her and her family with letters, was in prison for a previous breach of the order when he committed one of the new offences.

Tuesday's hearing was told Vines now wished to vacate his guilty pleas to the offences, which happened between November 28 and December 15 2016, and September 16 and 22 2017, and face a trial.

When the judge, Recorder David Mayall, asked Vines why, the defendant said he pleaded guilty because he "had given up and thrown in the towel" but had since changed his mind saying that he had been "wrongly convicted in the first place" and the restraining order should never have been imposed.

Jill Dando
Jill Dando

Refusing his application, Recorder Mayall said: "The proposition that one can change one's mind and put forward a change of plea on the basis that it is reasonable for you to ignore a court order because the court order should never have been made is one that would have no possible prospect of success."

Vines was convicted of harassing Ms Maitlis in 2002 after she raised the alarm following the murder of fellow television presenter Jill Dando in 1999.

The 47-year-old, of Clarks Row, Oxford, was issued with a restraining order in 2009, which he was convicted of twice breaching last year following a trial at the Oxford court, having previously pleaded guilty to two further breaches.

Sentencing him to three years in jail on that occasion, judge Peter Ross told Vines he "never had any reasonable case to contact Ms Maitlis following the order" and that he appeared to have a "completely unshakable obsession" with her.

He said: "You have known for 25 years that this woman wants nothing to do with you. You've plagued her life and the life of her family."

Vines's lawyer, Michael Gould, told the court he could no longer represent his client as he had been "professionally embarrassed".

Vines told the judge he would be "no longer making use of solicitors" and would represent himself in the future.

The case was adjourned for sentence to January 16 for Vines, who was remanded in custody, to speak to the probation service.