Wednesday, September 28, 2022


 Dear Readers,

Murray Norton

Is presenting at the BBC a breeding ground for cyber-bullies?

At last one of them has been jailed and this should also have happened to Murray Norton 10 years earlier. This most cowardly of crimes was what led to the death of my son Simon Abbott, but although Norton, the culprit, was actually working for the BBC at the time no action was taken against him.

Now Alex Belfield a former BBC radio presenter has been given a five year sentence in Britain. It appears that cyber-bullying is not yet a crime there, but what they ridiculously call ‘stalking on the internet’ is, and it was this that got Alex incarcerate.

After 25 years in broadcasting Alex found himself in Covid Lockdown and this prompted him to start “The Voice of Reason” on You Tube from his mother’s backroom bedroom. A year later he had 236 million hits as the United Kingdom’s Number 1 News Talk and presenter online.

Alex Belfield

For some inexplicable reason this success was not enough for him, so he made an even bigger name for himself by going after four people, including fellow broadcasters.

He was convicted of harassing them online by posting social media messages, sending emails and encouraging the followers of his You Tube channel to target them.

One of his victims was Jeremy Vine, a popular TV and radio presenter. According to the Judge he made “wholly false” allegations of theft against Vine. Bernard Spedding another BBC presenter received death threats and had come close to committing suicide, the court was told.

Murray Norton’s “vicious and unrelenting cyber-bullying” campaign against Simon on the island of Jersey where Norton had a long history of working as a BBC presenter was similar or probably worse than what Belfield did. Norton was hosting a daily three hour show on Radio Jersey at the time. His attacks on Simon were made particularly personal because he had a photographer accomplice to snatch pictures of Simon that they put on Twitter and possibly elsewhere. To make matters worse this was not long after the death of his sister in extremely tragic circumstances, which Norton was well aware of.

My son was a self employed software developer living in Jersey when my daughter and his only sibling 41 year old Samantha Abbott jumped to her death from a car park building in England. It happened shortly after the birth of her first child while she was suffering from post-natal depression.

In memory of his sister Simon established a Trust in Jersey to raise money for women with post-natal depression. That was the beginning of  his heartless, bullying troubles that were to eventually lead to his own death of a heart attack.

As the Island’s most prolific charity fund raiser it looked ominously as if Norton regarded Simon’s fund raising efforts that included a Fashion Show as unwelcome competition on an island of just 100 000 people, because that’s when the cyber-bulling started.

Norton was said to have posted comments on Facebook and Twitter accusing Simon of being a con-man who was just collecting donations for himself. The Police however, could find no evidence of this.  And because of Norton’s standing on the Island people assumed he must be right and joined in like vultures on a kill.

After my son’s death Norton went on to become a Minister in the Jersey Government before being appointed Chief Executive Office of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

   A cyber-bulling ball takes some stopping once a VIP like Norton gets it going. He effectively scuppered any chance Simon had of raising money for his Trust which was properly registered in Jersey. What was probably Simon’s most envied idea was his Fashion Show at which he planned to auction clothes donated to him by celebrities.

He listed more than 20 of them he claimed had given him clothes to sell and these included people like David & Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell, Elle McPherson, Rebecca Adlington (Double Olympic Gold Medalist, Swimming), Usain Bolt (Triply Olympic Gold Medalist, Sprinting) and so on.

The most inexplicable side of this story was that before Norton began his vile social media attacks the BBC Jersey’s website carried a glowing report about Simon’s Fashion Show idea together with a list of the celebrity donors.

Simon took Norton's behaviour up with Jon Gripton head of the BBC in Jersey. Gripton, however dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the Corporation was not responsible for what Norton did in his spare time as he was employed as a freelance by the BBC.

I also complained to Gripton after Simon’s death when I was unaware that my son had earlier done something similar. I conducted my own long distance investigation across half the world from South Africa. I sent him a comprehensive dossier that included extracts from the Jersey court records of when Simon sued Norton and his partner in crime freelance photographer Ian Le Sueur, as well as six others for libel in a desperate attempt to stop them trashing his name on social media. The case was never concluded because of Simon’s death.

Simon claimed to have been assaulted by Le Sueur and another person as a result of Norton’s harassment, but he could not get the Police to take any action against the people involved. Norton had lured Simon to a meeting in an empty church to enable Le Sueur to secretly snatch a picture of him which Le Sueur then use to illustrate abusive posts he put on Twitter using the profile name  Fashion Juice.

          On 6th February 2012 Simon sent a desperate email to his advocate saying: “Ian Le Sueur has spent the whole week-end spamming Twitter with my picture saying I’m a conman, conning items out of celebs and duping people out of hard earned money.” Simon estimated that these tweets could have been seen by as many as 500 000 people.

Gripton initially told me that he received Simon’s complaint in October 2011 and he added, “I then made Norton aware of his responsibilities as a freelance working for the BBC, stressed the need  for impartiality and reiterated the need to bear this in mind in any dealings in his personal social media or indeed elsewhere."

What he told me next reflected badly on the BBC. “I was of course aware of his postings on his private Facebook page, but felt, following my investigations, that this was not a matter for the BBC.”

  When I complained that he could not be described an impartial judge Gripton passed the case up the line to David Holdsworth: Controller, English Regions, BBC News. By this time Leo Divine, the BBC Regional Head had sided with Gripton after Simon had complained to him when he got not joy from Gripton.

Holdsworth supported his underlings. He found there was no evidence that “Murray Norton had engaged in or incited cyber-bullying on either the BBC or his personal accounts, or on public websites.” He added that he believed the investigations were properly done.What he said next made nonsense of his claim that Norton had not taken part in cyber-bulling Simon.

“Divine spoke to Norton, who had ceased posting any comments about Simon Abbott in October 2011, after your son had complained, and confirmed that he would not be posting further comments.”

Norton was doing nothing wrong in the BBC’s eyes yet he suddenly stops doing it when Simon complains. But even then he did not stop because in November 2011 he fired off another salvo at Simon on his Facebook page. “The Police and the press and possibly the taxation authorities must be sent all complaints with hard evidence that Simon has actually done something wrong. Simon, if you are watching this -which my friends, he might be – give it up; come clean on the finances of the Trust. Put the items you claim to have from the famous to good use. I’ll auction them for some people in real need instead of fake events that help no one, even those of us trying to raise funds.”

This was a page lead on October 13, 2013 in Britain's
The Mail on Sunday, the Sunday Newspaper of the
Year in 2019 with a circulation of 800 000

The BBC’s final whitewash job on Norton was conducted by the BBC Trust, which is the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. It agreed to consider my appeal against the decision of the three BBC top executives who ruled that Norton had not engaged in or incited cyber-bulling against Simon.

I was told an independent Editorial Adviser would be appointed to investigate the case and produce a report to aid the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee that would consider my appeal. I was to be given the report to comment on and this would form part of the final document.

The stink of bias arose because they refuse to name the Adviser, leaving me with the uncomfortable feeling that he/she was a BBC lackey.The fishy business didn’t end there, it got worse. In the Adviser’s report, references to information that would be given to the Committee, but not shared with the parties to protect the privacy of the individuals involved kept cropping up. This was the reason given for only giving the Police statement to the Committee.

The people who were interviewed by the adviser were listed but nowhere was my name mentioned even though I could easily have been contacted in South Africa. He/She had a two and a half hour meeting with Norton.

The Adviser’s bias really showed when under a ‘Confidential’ heading he/ she stated: “The News Editor of the Jersey Evening Post (the Island’s only paper) told me that he thought Murray Norton had been very brave to take on Simon Abbott and that he had done the island a favour by his actions.”

When the final version of the Committee’s findings arrived for publication that recurring theme that some of the wording ‘has been amended to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned’ cropped up again. Not a single person was named in the final report. Even my son and I were referred to as Complainants 1 and 2 and Norton was an anonymous BBC radio presenter.

The Committee of five rejected my appeal and accepted the very convoluted arguments of the BBC’s department heads and emptied the rest of its whitewash onto the BBC for acting in good faith and dealing fairly with both complainants.

The Trustee members of the Committee who dealt with the appeal were; Alison Hastings (Chairperson), Sonita Alleyne, Richard Ayre, Bill Matthews and Nicholas Prettejohn. They were not named in the findings. I had to establish their identities myself.

If this is the BBC’s idea of justice it badly needs help because it is appalling to say the least. It was like what could happen in some secret society.


Jon, who only wishes he could have been in Jersey when Simon was being so terribly bullied.












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