Tag Archives: joanna yeates

Greenslade: Six newspapers sued for libel by Christopher Jefferies

On his blog today Roy Greenslade outlined the libel case Christopher Jefferies is bringing against the Sun, Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Daily Record.

Mr Jefferies was arrested in December, as part of the Joanna Yeates murder investigation, and later released by police having been eliminated from their inquiries. Greenslade said at the time of Jefferies’ arrest he wrote about the press coverage “arguing that it amounted to a character assassination”.

Law firm Simons Muirhead & Burton partner, Louis Charalambous, leads the team representing Mr Jefferies. A statement released this afternoon by the firm stated: “Mr Jefferies will be seeking vindication of his reputation for the terrible treatment he received”.

Index: Due process, prejudice and the press in case of Chris Jefferies

The UK media has come in for a fair amount of criticism over the past few days for its coverage of Chris Jefferies, who was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Joanna Yeates but later released without charge.

In a post for Index on Censorship, published yesterday, Kingston University journalism professor Brian Cathcart analyses the deficiencies of England’s contempt of court laws that allow news organisations to go unpunished for what he calls the “monstering” of suspects.

Sometimes, as in the case of Jefferies, the attorney general publicly draws editors’ attention to the Contempt of Court Act of 1981, but it never makes any difference. They know and he knows that that law, supposedly intended to protect juries from improper influence, contains a loophole big enough to render it meaningless.

To convict a paper of contempt in such a case the Crown would have to prove there had been a “substantial” risk of “serious” prejudice. This, successive attorneys general have decided, is both unmeasurable and unprovable, which means it is also unenforceable. It follows that reporting of suspects around the time of arrest is unfettered.

Full post on Index on Censorship at this link.

Related content elsewhere

David Banksy: Molecular chemistry, contempt of court and the reporting of the Joanna Yeates case

Inforrm blog: Media responsibility and Chris Jefferies

Timothy J. Moore: The lost honour of Chris Jefferies