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

This week we are revisiting the Can I tell you a secret? series. This episode was first broadcast on 23 September 2022.

In this seven-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, Hardy’s victims come face to face with him in court. Will his stalking – which has spanned a decade – finally be brought to an end?

Kale talks to Prof Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, the director of the autism research centre at Cambridge University, to understand whether Hardy’s autism may have an impact on his criminal culpability, and to discuss how cases involving autistic people could be better handled.

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

Finally, Hardy’s victims describe the moment he faces justice.

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

  • 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 would like to thank the National Autistic Society and Autism Rights Group Highland for their help and advice on this series

This podcast was edited on 10 October 2022 to correct a reference to the length of Hardy’s sentence.

Can I Tell You A Secret? illustration

Photograph: Design/The Guardian

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