Lily Allen was stalked, attacked at home, wants ‘answers from the police’

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Regardless of your opinion of Lily Allen, her story about being stalked for the last seven years will chill you. She recently sat down with BBC Newsnight to discuss the ordeal as well as how she felt victim-shamed by the Metropolitan police. I have summarized due to length but you can read the full Guardian exclusive here. In short, seven years ago, someone tweeted under the name @lilyallenRIP that they had written her song The Fear. What followed was almost a decade of harassing letters, rants and threats. The police honed in on a man named Alex Gray, whom Lily herself had yet to encounter in person. One night, while Lily was on stage, a man matching the description she had been given of her stalker held up a banner saying “I wrote The Fear.” Lily went back to the police begging to see a photo of their suspect. After a few tries, the police finally relinquished. Everything culminated last October when somebody broke into Lily’s house.

In October last year, Allen burned her dinner. “I had had all sorts of metal shutters and locks on the doors, but I’d been cooking and burned a pan and opened the back door. I closed it but forgot to lock it when I went to bed.” Asleep with her friend, her children in their room across the hall, Allen was awoken in the early hours by a terrific banging on the wall. “I sat up and looked and the doorhandle was twisting round. This guy came steaming in and I didn’t know who he was. I recoiled and he ripped the duvet off, calling me a ‘fucking bitch’ and yelling about where his dad is.”

The man had an object stuffed inside his jacket that Allen is convinced was a knife. She believes he was caught off guard when he found she was not alone, and her friend was able to shove the man out of the house as she ran to check that her children were safe. “There was this second outside my kids’ room when I was terrified to go in, in case of what I might find.”

The police told Allen the intruder was probably someone who had stumbled into the wrong flat after too much to drink. “For me, it was too much of a coincidence that the only night I had left the shutters up, this man came in. I believe he had been spending a lot of time out there in my garden, watching.”

Calling the police back the next day, Allen told them she thought the intruder could be the same man who had been threatening her.

“But they were uncomfortable with the idea. Then I realised my handbag was missing and the change in atmosphere was palpable, it was like a sigh of relief: ‘now it’s burglary – we understand that’.”

“For me, the burglary was like this insignificant thing compared to what he was doing to me and my life. After about a week, I went out as I was due to DJ at an event. I hadn’t had any contact from police, I presumed they were actively searching for him; it’s now apparent to me that wasn’t the case. When I arrived home, my handbag was on the bonnet of my car outside my house. Burnt. Everything pulled out and cut up or burned and the bag burned.” Gray was subsequently caught and charged with burglary.

“I want some answers from the police. I’m a famous person and had the inclination to push things. If they treat me like this, how the hell are they going to treat someone else without those resources, without clout?”

[From The Guardian]

I cringed at her quote about standing outside her kids’ door scared of what she would find. Lily says this ordeal has greatly impacted her personal life. She says she is uncomfortable being out and about, which has to be difficult for someone whose profession demands a public life.

Alex Gray was found guilty of burglary and harassment and is awaiting sentencing. According to Lily, the police told her if she wanted a jail sentence, they had to prosecute with the burglary charge. It is harder to get a conviction for stalking than burglary in the US so maybe the same is true in the UK? However, if you read the full article, there are many questions unanswered like why the police destroyed all the letters Lily gave them from her stalker, citing only “police protocol”. For what it’s worth, the police did say that they took the stalking seriously but could not comment any further on this case. I imagine Lily did feel like she wasn’t being taken seriously but we don’t know why the police acted as they did. I just hope Lily and her children are safe now. Thank God she had a friend sleeping over that night.

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Photo credit: WENN Photos

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35 Responses to “Lily Allen was stalked, attacked at home, wants ‘answers from the police’”

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  1. Jh says:

    I was not expecting such a terrifying story. That’s a real life horror movie.

  2. D says:

    That sounds absolutely terrifying

  3. So scary.
    She is right if a person with resources gets treated like this, what about normal people like us. This is the other aspect of celebrity and fame which is bone chilling.

  4. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Absolutely terrifying, and I’m completely baffled by the lack of action on the part of the police. If she had been alone, who knows what would have happened? And what will happen when he gets out? He’s obviously mentally ill.

  5. Sixer says:

    I saw the interview. While I do understand all the difficulties in finding and prosecuting stalkers, it seems the police didn’t deal with this well and are dealing with the aftermath – and what they see as her effrontery in complaining – even more poorly. She read out a letter from them after she was first in the media complaining:

    “As you know, there have been press reports suggesting you have been dissatisfied with the response you received. Further, 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 to report such matters. As such, it is really important that I understand what – if anything – went wrong during the investigation. I was saddened to hear of this report so would like to hear your views on what we could do better.”

    Seriously? Can they not hear the passive aggression and subtle victim-blaming in that? What went wrong “IF ANYTHING”? Are they serious?

    And the point being, if they mess it up this badly for a gobshite famous person with a very loud media voice, why on earth would non-famous women with no clout whatsoever have any confidence in them? I certainly wouldn’t. That said, one of my friends was mercilessly stalked by an ex, and the police couldn’t have done more for her. She was supported all the way and she was protected from him.

    • SloaneY says:

      It’s one of those apologies that isn’t really an apology.

    • GreenieWeenie says:

      this reminds me vaguely of South Korean police who published a response letter to a foreign woman who’d been raped on their FACEBOOK PAGE (translated into English, identifying the victim by name) because she dared to complain about their treatment of the case.

    • Jaded says:

      I had a stalker once; as a young thing I worked in a club serving drinks a couple of nights a week. Long story short one of the male customers (a total weirdo) took a fancy to me but wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was a friend of the owner and even cornered me in a private office once when I was tallying the night’s receipts. Sure enough he started showing up at my day job, found out my home address and started stalking me there, and phoned incessantly until I changed my number to an unlisted one. I too went to the police and basically got a pat on the head and was told that unless he attacked me there was nothing they could do. I quit the bar job and lived in fear for months. He finally disappeared but it was godawful when it was happening. She has all my sympathy and outrage.

      • Sixer says:

        Huge sympathies. My friend had an awful, awful time of it. The leader on her course told her that mobile phones have been a real godsend in prosecuting stalking cases because the men can never resist leaving threatening voice messages. So instead of a hard-to-prove case of he said/she said, they have actual evidence. My friend’s ex did that, and it was the messages that got him convicted. I could type out the words, which were nasty enough, but it wasn’t the words. It was the *way* he said them. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

  6. Magnoliarose says:

    That is frightening and she is absolutely right to be terrified. Stalking usually ends with a showdown of a sorts in cases like hers. Either the stalker attempts to murder the person and they are finally arrested or they succeed, and the victim is killed. It never ends well without the police taking the victim seriously.
    This is the one area where I have trouble with my views about gun control. I don’t know any other way for a person to protect themselves if the police won’t help.
    I feel sorry for her, no one deserves that he.l on earth.

  7. cannibell says:

    Jesus. And how, exactly, is she supposed to feel safe herself, much less be able to protect her children. I hope she’s warming up to kick down the doors of Parliament and push for some changes to the legal system.

  8. iseepinkelefants says:

    I follow her on Twitter so she’s been going on about this for days. She said she even had security at her home, and she’s been retweeting other people’s tweets about their stalking ordeal. I guess because France is different, it just seems odd that there isn’t something more that could have been done. In America you go to the courthouse and get a protection order. It doesn’t usually stop the person but if the police are called and the order is in place it’s hard to get out of the consequences (why can’t I remember the bloody name?) anyhow very odd. And I’m also surprised, especially with how open she is, that we’re just hearing about it now. It seems like she would have run to Twitter at the start 7 years ago. People mock it but I think it’s probably an invaluable tool to be able to tell a wide audience “this person is stalking me”. Anyway hopefully the laws change 700,000 women and men being stalked every year is just crazy.

    • Sixer says:

      I think the point was here that they didn’t have the man’s identity. So they couldn’t get a protection order. You can get protection orders here if you know who is stalking you. Similar problems with enforcing them, however. As I said above, when my friend was stalked by an ex (he threatened her, turned up at her work, stood in her garden, etc etc) the police couldn’t have been more helpful. They helped her with a court order, prosecuted him, made daily visits to his house to warn him to stick by the order leading up to the court case, went to her work to advise them how to help protect her, and sent her on a course so that she had the tools to deal with him as best she could and suffered the minimum amount of mental distress.

      I think Allen’s – rightful – complaint here is that the police did not sufficiently investigate to find out WHO was stalking her, or take her sufficiently seriously. The implication is that they saw her as a whiny celebrity making a big fuss about a few mean tweets sent her way until there was an actual break-in at her house. And even then, they treated it as a property crime rather than a stalking crime.

  9. Eleonor says:

    Nightmare, the story of her outside her children bedroom, and the handbag on her car gave me chills. I hope she will be ok and safe.

  10. Maum says:

    It’s worth pointing that Allen stated that she didn’t blame her stalker (he has mental health problems and his own family have been trying to get him sectioned) because he had also been let down by the system and needed help he didn’t get.
    Brave girl.

  11. Nicole says:

    I feel horrible for her and she has kids to protect. Stalking is one of those crimes that police always fail to take seriously until the victim is dead. It’s absolutely horrifying. I’ve read story after story on longtime stalkers where women have been physically attacked and they still can’t get their perpetrator behind bars for a long time. Just awful

  12. crab says:

    Has anyone ever seen the show “Obsession” on the ID channel? Some scary scary stuff these poor people have gone through and some for 20+ years!! When they call the police they say they can’t do anything because the stalker hasn’t done anything illegal and they have to wait until an assault or something has happened! One woman was killed by her ex-boyfriends small son who grew into a grown man and was obsessed by her! She was stalked by him for over 20 years! It’s nuts!

  13. Betsy says:

    Stalking has always been right up there with rape in my personal scary categories and I realize that a big part of what makes both so frightening to me is the lasting element of fear and damage to your sense of personal safety and bodily integrity, plus neither of them seems to be universally well prosecuted, or even taken seriously. Chilling stuff.

    • Wren says:

      I agree. It’s scary as hell and there’s always this mentality of “maybe you egged them on”. Or that you’re making a big deal out of nothing. Which makes it even worse because on top of the violation people are skeptical that it even happened.

    • Klaw says:

      Betsy, that’s a great way to sum it up. I’ve been unlucky enough to have been stalked seriously by THREE different individuals in my life, and only now when I am further away from that constant fear do I see how much damage it has caused me. I’m still hyper-aware of my surroundings at all times and I don’t go out alone at night unless the area is super safe and lots of people are around. I even pay way more rent than I’d like, just so I can live in the safest area of the city. The whole experience can make life a lot more difficult, and you feel completely alone because it is embarrassing and people doubt you. Not to mention the very action of obtaining a restraining order just inflames the stalker even more – and then it doesn’t even help until you actually get injured. No one ever mentions that.

  14. Lucy says:

    What an awful, infutiaring situation. I hope her kids and her are okay.

  15. Sam says:

    The problem with stalking is that, in most cases, the person is smart enough to never cross the line into implausibility. They know what the law allows and exactly how far they can go. They stalk in public places, since technically, that’s not illegal. They know exactly what they can say and what is a threat and what isn’t. They get off on being able to stay just within the confines of the law, and that makes it so much harder to prosecute them. The other problem is that stalking very often crosses jurisdictional lines and when it does, that creates more problems for prosecuting it.

    Long story short, law enforcement still has a duty to handle this stuff as best they can, but I’m also sympathetic to the unique challenges that stalking presents. It’s not like other crimes in that the people doing it are often extremely skilled at evading prosecution. It’s a mess all over.

    • Pip says:

      Terrifying & sadly all too believable.

      I’m a big fan of Lily Allen – always have been. I think her & Charlotte Church have turned into really interesting women – always worth listening to. I’m a big fan of a gobby woman :-)

  16. Miss M says:

    This is terrifying!

  17. umila says:

    My husband was attacked and nearly killed two months ago, victim of a stabbing. Cali police did not give a s*** nor did the hospital. I was amazed. I was like…this can’t be happening. It took THREE days of crying and screaming and worrying before anyone would even tell me where he was taken or what had happened in ANY detail….I remember asking again and again, “Why doesn’t anyone care?” When I had to talk to personnel a week or so after the incident, they were like “Can’t you be happy your husband is alive?”…What kind of thing is that to say?
    While I wasn’t the one physically harmed, I still have trouble leaving my house and feel violated. It’s scary as hell. I can’t imagine what she felt standing outside of her kid’s rooms…I just don’t get how people can be so callous. And no, I’m not one of those people that think it’s within a single person’s power to magically fix the world…but a little compassion goes a long freaking way. Poor Lily. I hope she receives some good counseling.

    • LAR says:

      How awful! I hope you too get all the support you need through this.

      • umila says:

        Thank you, LAR. :) I think I would be in way worse shape if my husband didn’t have one of those exuberant, bouncy personalities…plus, I really do realize that I am lucky to still have him. Wish the best for you and yours. <3

  18. Rockin Robin says:

    Poor Lily! I can’t even imagine.