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Journalist calls for new stalking laws in NI after 'four years of utter hell'

A journalist with The Irish News has called for stalking legislation to be extended to Northern I...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

13.03 11 Feb 2020


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Journalist calls for new stalk...

Journalist calls for new stalking laws in NI after 'four years of utter hell'

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

13.03 11 Feb 2020


Share this article


A journalist with The Irish News has called for stalking legislation to be extended to Northern Ireland after she was the victim of harassment by a former partner.

Allison Morris was continuously harassed over "four years of complete and utter hell".

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Ms Morris described the torment she suffered by her ex-partner's behaviour and the difficult process of dealing with police and the courts in an effort to stop him.

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She said the pair were not together for long as he turned out to be a violent person.

However, he refused to go away, instead, he consistently turned up outside her workplace as well as messaging, phoning, and sending her abusive emails.

She said: "No matter how many platforms I tried to block him on he would find a way to get to me."

Ms Morris had attempted to deal with the harassment by herself but was forced to contact police after an incident in 2016 when he showed up outside The Irish News offices in Belfast.

She said: "He was completely ranting and raving and when I say he was foaming at the mouth, he was literally foaming at the mouth.

"When I tried to walk him down the street to get him away from the front of the office, he had a sandwich in his hand and he rubbed it all over my hair and my clothes.

She said she was expecting a call from her daughter who was pregnant, and he persisted in calling her multiple times in the following hours, which blocked any calls coming through.

Ms Morris said: "That was the day I broke because it was no longer about me it was about her welfare too and the fact that she was going to be distressed if she was trying to ring me about what the doctors were telling her."

She then contacted police and "thought that would be the end of it".

She added: "As someone who reports on crime and security in Northern Ireland I have to deal with the police quite regularly and sometimes in a very critical way as well, and I wasn’t very comfortable with the idea of them knowing my personal business.

"I didn't want anyone to think I was weak or in some way incapable of looking after myself because that's not who I am, I like to think I'm tough and resilient as a person"

"I rang the police and thought it would frighten him off but it just seemed to enrage him even worse and thus began four years of complete and utter hell."

'My stomach would be in knots

According to Ms Morris, it would be "an understatement" to say the PSNI were unhelpful at the beginning of the process to end the harassment.

She said her ex-partner tried to thwart the investigation by making false counter-claims and became smart in how he used technology by installing spyware on his laptop and using pay as you go phones.

He was eventually prosecuted in November 2017 for two courses of harassment but received a suspended sentence.

Ms Morris said: "I got four of five weeks peace and then it started again worse than ever."

He used different methods of communication and many of the harassment was online.

The PSNI were "ill-equipped" to deal with this amid hundreds of complaints from her, she said.

Discussing the complaints she said: "Some of them are quite minor but when you take them as a collective, as a group, and as a course of behaviour, every day I would get up and my stomach would be in knots.

"I was full of anxiety, my hair started coming out with the stress and I couldn’t sleep.

Her career was impacted too, as he sent letters to her workplace making false allegations against her and contacted the NUJ, the union for journalists.

On one occasion, Ms Morris was in a refugee camp in Serbia reporting on the crisis when he contacted the charity she was visiting and told them she had convictions for child abuse.

She said despite her distressing situation, she felt she couldn’t share a lot of with her family as they had enough pressure of their own.

She said: "You were trying to deal with it as best you can on your own and trying to think that it will eventually go away."

Justice system

She said she is not seeking sympathy but is speaking out about the justice system which she described as becoming “part of the abuse”.

Ms Morris eventually secured a non-molestation order against the harasser, but while he received legal aid, she had to bear the brunt of legal fees herself.

After a protracted process of convictions and appeals, he was finally convicted on Thursday to a 14-month sentence, to serve seven months in prison, while refusing to accept any wrongdoing.

The PSNI deals with stalking under the Protection from Harassment Order (NI) 1997.

The Chief Constable of the PSNI Simon Byrne has voiced his support for Ms Morris and has said he is in favour of updating existing legislation to create a specific stalking offence in Northern Ireland.

Main image: Irish News journalist Allison Morris. Photo via Twitter

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