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Can I tell you a secret? Episode four: a reckoning | Society

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In this new six-episode podcast, Guardian journalist Sirin Kale investigates the story of Matthew Hardy, a cyberstalker who terrified people in his hometown and beyond for over a decade.

His harassment would often start in the same way, with a fake profile posing as a young woman asking a simple question: “Hey hun, can I tell you a secret?”. This series attempts to untangle his web of deception to find out how and why he wreaked havoc over so many people’s lives.

In episode four, Matthew’s victims come face to face with him in court. Will Matthew’s stalking – which has stretched back over a decade – finally be brought to an end?

Sirin talks to Prof. Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, the director of the autism research center at Cambridge University, to understand whether Matthew being autistic might impact his criminal culpability, and to discuss how cases involving autistic people could be better handled.

Sirin also hears from Kabie Brook and Graeme Thomson-Gold, who work with Autism Rights Group Highland, an advocacy group run for and by autistic people. They tell Sirin about how they feel when cases like Matthew’s hit the headlines.

Finally, Matthew’s victims describe the moment that Matthew faces justice.

Since the Guardian started making this podcast, Matthew has been granted permission to appeal his sentence.

  • Subscribe to Can I Tell You a Secret? on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts
  • If you need any support around stalking and harassment, you can get in touch with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust or call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300
  • We’d like to thank the National Autistic Society and Autism Rights Group Highland for their help and advice on this series



Photograph: Design/The Guardian

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