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Lily Allen 'victim-shamed' over stalking

BBC News BBC News 20/04/2016
Lily Allen © BBC Lily Allen

Singer Lily Allen has accused police dealing with her stalking case of "victim-shaming".

Lily Allen performing on stage © Getty Images Lily Allen performing on stage

In an interview with BBC Newsnight, Allen said that after she spoke out, a Met officer suggested her "high profile" intervention may have discouraged others from coming forward.

"I think it's victim-shaming and victim-blaming," she said.

The Met says it takes stalking "extremely seriously" and seeks to put victims at the heart of any inquiry.

After giving an interview to The Observer at the weekend expressing her dissatisfaction with elements of the investigation, Allen says she received an email from a Met officer who wrote that "due to the high profile of this matter I fear other victims of similar crimes may have read the story and now may not have the confidence in us to report such matters. As such it is really important I can understand what, if anything, went wrong during the investigation."

The singer says she is concerned that she had to hire her own lawyer to ensure that her stalker, 30-year-old Alex Gray, from Perth, was charged with harassment as well as burglary.

Mr Gray was convicted earlier this month and is now awaiting sentencing.

He first contacted Allen on Twitter in 2008, then began turning up at her home and office and leaving abusive notes and suicide threats. He attended one of her gigs in 2009 holding a banner with a message to her, and last year broke into her flat and bedroom after she accidentally left a door unlocked.

"I'm lying in bed and I can see the door handle moving and then he steams in, starts screaming and shouting... I could see he was really agitated and upset," Lily Allen told Newsnight.

"I recoiled back into my bed and he ripped the duvet off and jumped out of bed and ran around to the other side of the room and he kept shouting at me, but he was very focused on me and it was loud and aggressive and he had something under his jumper."

She says that after repeated requests, police showed her a photo of Mr Gray "for 30 seconds" - but wouldn't let her keep it. As a result, she didn't recognise her stalker when he entered her bedroom.

"It transpires that he had sent an email to his mother saying that he was in London, had come into some money - probably from my handbag - and that he was determined to murder a celebrity. The police didn't tell me that. And I was living in the same flat, on my own," she told Newsnight.

"I was DJing at an event and I came home at about 1 o'clock in the morning to find the handbag that had been stolen on the bonnet of my car... At which point I called the police, and I think it was the next day they installed CCTV on the outside of my house and then a day after that he was arrested."

Lily Allen had first alerted police to the problem in 2009 and gave them the notes as evidence. She assumed that they would be used as part of the 2016 court case, but was told that they had been destroyed "according to police protocol". A panic alarm given to her was also taken away again when Gray left her alone for six months.

In a statement the Met said: "The victim should be at the heart of any investigation into such allegations and kept informed of developments as this work progresses. If this is not the case then we are keen to speak to victims and learn any lessons we can to improve our investigations."

The singer is supporting a campaign by the Women's Equality Party and the stalking advocacy service Paladin to set up a register for serial stalkers.

Up to 700,000 women are stalked each year, with only 1% of stalking cases and 16% of harassment cases recorded by police, according to Paladin.

But Lily Allen said she didn't blame Gray for her ordeal.

"I'm not in the slightest bit angry with Alex Gray. I could see from the minute he came into my bedroom that he was ill and that he needed help.

"I wanted to help - I felt immediately like there's something really wrong with this guy and I feel like he's been let down. I've been let down. And how many other people are being let down?"

Lily Allen was speaking to Kirsty Wark. You can watch the full interview on BBC Newsnight at 22:30 on BBC Two - or afterwards on iPlayer

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