A self-proclaimed paedophile hunter has said he wanted to “inject fear” into a journalist who was carrying out an investigation into his activities.
Kevin Magee, an investigative reporter with the BBC, was surrounded and accosted by a group of online vigilantes after he attempted to interview one of them.
The man in question has been named by Mr Magee as George Keenan.
Mr Magee had attempted to interview Mr Keenan at his home last week to ask his what right he had to target alleged paedophiles in sting operations, which were then broadcast live on Facebook.
In a heated radio interview on BBC’s The Nolan Show yesterday morning, Mr Keenan said he viewed himself as “judge, jury and executioner”.
Mr Keenan claimed he was no longer involved in paedophile hunting.
However, he added that – after Mr Magee had turned up on his doorstep last week – he gathered a group of fellow vigilantes with the intention of confronting the respected journalist.
“They wanted to back me up. They wanted to inject the same fear into this man that he injected into me,” Mr Keenan said.
Dramatic footage of the encounter, which appeared on social media last week, showed a group of men angrily confronting Mr Magee and BBC staff in a coffee shop.
The group followed the Spotlight reporter outside, shouting at him in the street. One of the men even sat in the road and attempted to prevent Mr Magee’s vehicle from leaving.
During the video, one man asks Mr Magee: “How does it feel to be confronted? This is what you call power.”
The incident has been condemned by the National Union of Journalists as an “attack on media freedom”.
Speaking on The Nolan Show yesterday, Mr Magee described the incident as “frightening” and said he felt “very intimidated”.
The BBC screened Mr Magee’s investigation yesterday.
“Thanks to everyone who sent me messages last week,” Mr Magee tweeted.
A Sunday Life investigation at the weekend revealed that police are investigating links between online paedophile hunter groups in NI and loyalist paramilitaries.
Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman also told the paper that at least one individual involved in these vigilante gangs had been questioned by detectives about sexual assault.
The senior officer asked the groups to stop live-streaming their confrontations as it wrecked any chance of a successful prosecution.