Broadcaster Jeremy Vine has been reported to the BBC over claims he 'bullied and intimidated' a group opposed to low traffic neighbourhoods by alleging they had decapitated flowers belonging to a safe cycling campaigner.
The Radio 2 presenter posted an image on his Twitter of the vandalism last week, as road.cc reported.
'Severed' flower heads had been spread out on a resident's doormat in the image and alongside the photograph Vine explained how the woman had been subjected to 'so much abuse' from a local anti cycling group.
He wrote: “A woman in my area has been relentless in arguing the case for safe cycling. She has had much abuse from the local anti-cycling group which is raising £50,000 to get our new cycle lane torn out.
“Yesterday, she woke to find all the flowers in her front garden had been decapitated.”
Now, the Telegraph reports, a member of One Chiswick, a group opposed to road closures and safe pop-up cycle lanes, has written to the BBC Director General, Tim Davie, insisting Vine, 55, made unfounded 'libellous and defamatory' claims against them.
Writing on Twitter this morning Vine pointed out he wasn't directly accusing anyone but said the 'local anti cycling brigade' had created an atmosphere where someone 'might think it is ok to do something like this'.
Margie Frew, a member of One Chiswick claimed Vine suggested members of the group had 'committed criminal acts, including trespass, vandalism and intimidation and harassment.'
@abundancelondon@thejeremyvine use a staged photo of flowers and claim vandalism by@realonechiswick while prior having posted multiple tweets about squirrels destroying her tulips & flowers every April & allows this unfounded fraudulent accusation to continue-shame on you!🤨 pic.twitter.com/Ed1SHOgtyg
— margie frew (@margiefrew) May 4, 2021
After seeing the initial tweet, Jo Rigby, a Wandsworth Labour councillor, set up a Just Giving page to help replace the flowers.
More than £2,600 has now been raised, including a donation from British Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman.
A woman in my area has been relentless in arguing the case for safe cycling. She has had much abuse from the local anti-cycling group which is raising £50k to get our new cycle lane torn out. Yesterday she woke to find all the flowers in her front garden had been decapitated. pic.twitter.com/XRta6Y7yYy
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) May 1, 2021
Posting on Twitter at the time, Rigby said:"Someone has decapitated her flowers and you don't f**k with flowers."
Ms Frew argues that Vine, who has 750,000 Twitter followers, has 'unfairly' described One Chiswick members as 'anti-bike'.
She claims she and her husband are both 'keen cyclists' despite the group saying it wants to scrap the 'dangerous' C9 cycle lane.
On the group's website, it claims cyclists are terrified of using the new path in case 'a car enters by mistake' or they crash into other cyclists coming the other way.
It also repeats the unsubstantiated claim that emergency service vehicles are delayed by low traffic neighbourhoods.
One Chiswick say they are exercising their 'democratic right' to oppose LTNs.
The letter to the BBC, seen by The Telegraph, explains how Vine did not name the group directly, but 'it can only be that he meant it to be the resident group One Chiswick, which he claims is anti-cycling.'
Ms Frew says he has 'no evidence' to back his claims anyone in the group cut the heads off at least 30 flowers.
“Mr Vine believes he could make these inflammatory accusations without fear of repercussion,” she wrote.
“You will appreciate that these assertions are, unless proven, not only libellous and defamatory, but seeking to bully, intimidate and control people with whom he disagrees.”
She says the alleged victim, a former BBC employee, has used social media in the past to complain how squirrels have 'decapitated' her tulips during Spring time.
Demanding an apology from Vine, Ms Frew said the broadcaster is 'prepared to engage in the promotion of lies, as well as potentially being involved in the fabrication of evidence to bully, intimidate and defame myself and others.'
She added: “It would appear that Mr Vine feels emboldened, confident that the BBC guidelines bear no teeth and he can ignore them.”
A BBC spokeswoman confirmed its Executive Complaints Unit was dealing with the complaint, adding: “Jeremy is aware of his duty under the BBC's social media guidelines.”
Breach of the guidance can lead to disciplinary action and even termination of a contract.
Posting on Twitter today under the original post, Mr Vine wrote: "It shouldn't need saying, but I'm absolutely not suggesting any member of any particular website did the tulips.
"But unfortunately what the local anti-cycling brigade have done is create the kind of atmosphere where someone might feel it's okay to do it. This post is an example."
It shouldn't need saying, but I'm absolutely not suggesting any member of any particular website did the tulips. But unfortunately what the local anti-cycling brigade have done is create the kind of atmosphere where someone might feel it's okay to do it. This post is an example. pic.twitter.com/M4HHt1ewG3
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) May 9, 2021