A SCOTTISH performer has spoken publicly for the first time about her experiences of being stalked by a man who said her death would “bring a martyr to the Yes movement”.

Performance poet Jenny Lindsay was inspired to open up after reading about the seven-year ordeal suffered by Lily Allen, who is currently awaiting the sentencing of Alex Gray, the Scot who threatened her life.

Lindsay, an Edinburgh-based performer and writer, wants online communications to have more weight in prosecuting stalkers.

Lindsay first sensed something was wrong in spring 2014 when a man approached her twice at Yes campaign grassroots events. He had also been present at other events where she was performing.

“I did start to think there was something seriously wrong with how this guy approached me,” says Lindsay. “[He was] very obviously agitated and nervy but intense and demanding I give him attention. But there was no real way to know if he was just interested in spoken word, was just a slightly odd fan, or if he was a danger.”

It wasn’t long before it was clear he was the latter when Lindsay received a highly threatening email from him. To make the situation even more alarming, Lindsay had never even had so much as a short conversation with the man.

“[It] started with a link to one of those Men’s Rights Activist list sites where they posit that women have set patterns of rejection and play hard-to-get in order to ‘game’ men,” she says.

“He insinuated this is what I was doing and said ‘You hurt my feelings last night, you little bitch’ and to stop playing games with him and that I was ‘lucky’ he wasn’t going to ‘throw the towel in’ after how badly I was treating him. He went on to say he was coming to my next show, which was in Glasgow in two days’ time.”

She asked him to cease all contact or she would call the police. When he continued to come to her shows, the police were called. They took statements from Lindsay and then flatmate Rachel McCrum [Lindsay’s partner in cabaret act Rally & Broad] and he was given a caution.

The police, at this stage, were “excellent” Lindsay says, “apart from one very silly comment saying I should just not advertise any events I was performing at in order to discourage him.”

This was not the only flippant remark made to her.

“I had some ridiculous responses when some people found out I had a stalker, from the ‘Ooh, you’ve finally made it’ dafties who assume that stalking is anything to do with admiration of one’s talents and nothing to do with power, gender assumptions, and trying to make someone feel vulnerable; to a sort of tacit shrug that this is what happens when you get on a stage.”

Although this is the first time the police were involved, it is not the first time Lindsay has experienced stalking behaviour from men.

She says she’s apprehensive her stalker might read this and contact her again and that some may view her as inviting it through talking about it frankly.

Such experiences and concerns point towards the need for a shift in attitudes to take stalking more seriously and address why it happens – both in terms of wider societal values and mental health. Like Allen, Lindsay says her stalker was seriously unwell.

Another change needs to be made: that of online communications being given more importance as evidence. Though not contacting her directly, Lindsay’s stalker posted comments “about wanting to cannibalise poets; insinuations about lying to judges, and more besides”.

It was to McCrum that the most disturbing threat was made. On an evening when she had expected the police to visit but didn’t show up, Lindsay’s flatmate showed her an email she had been sent from Lindsay’s stalker.

“It posited that the Yes movement would benefit from someone murdering me and it being made to look like a suicide,” she says.

“He demanded that Rachel ‘listen very closely’ to what he was saying in the email and online.”

Legislation enacted in 2010 made stalking an offence but seems inadequate for our online life.

Lindsay says: “The first time they [the police] came over I was told that if it had just been emails it wouldn’t have been enough to caution him.

“But because it had started with physical contact and repeatedly so, that was definitely grounds to charge him with stalking. Online stalking doesn’t count.

“My argument that they went a great deal of the way to showing a pattern of escalation that suggested he should be getting treatment as part of his bail wasn’t, apparently, my concern and to leave that to his lawyers and relatives.

“Leaving my own case aside, it seems to me to be pretty odd that the effects of online stalking – whether by email, Messenger or Twitter – can’t be taken into account more in stalking cases. They go a long way to highlighting an individual’s intent and mindset. That was what I found so frustrating in my own case.”

Following a compulsory treatment order given in autumn 2014, the man has thankfully not since contacted Lindsay. But she has received no follow-up in terms of support or news of the status or whereabouts of her stalker.

She says she now finds it difficult to talk to men she doesn’t know at events.

“I struggle to date, wouldn’t even consider going on any kind of dating website, and get the fear whenever anyone sends me unsolicited poems asking for feedback,” she says.

“And, I admit, I often find myself scanning crowds, just to make sure.

“Long-term too, and overall, I just hope, hope, hope that my former stalker, who I forgive, is healthy and now aware of how wrong what he did was.”

Women's Equality Party lead campaign against stalking

THE Women’s Equality Party have launched a campaign to support victims of stalking.

Anne Beetham, the WEP’s candidate for the Glasgow regional list says: “Lily Allen’s story, and other stories being bravely shared this week, show how the police’s approach to the crime of stalking is not working.

“Stalking has been a criminal offence in Scotland for almost six years now and we have seen prosecution rates go up. Still, victims tell us that the police do not take stalking behaviour seriously when it is first reported.

“We are calling for the Scottish Government to take stalking seriously – this means funding stalking support services, ensuring that Police Scotland professionals receive specialist training on the crime of stalking, introducing programmes of treatment for perpetrators and setting up a national register of serial stalkers.”

You can join the WEP’s campaign on Twitter at #jointhedots

Family of Lilly Allen stalker and singer call for him to be treated rather than jailed