Sunday 8 December 2019

Newspapers fined for contempt of court over architect's murder case

THE 'Sun' and the 'Daily Mirror' were convicted of contempt of court yesterday for articles related to their coverage of the murder of Bristol landscape architect Joanna Yeates.

Three judges sitting at the High Court ruled that a series of reports vilifying Ms Yeates's landlord Chris Jefferies following his brief arrest 13 days after her disappearance "created substantial risks to the course of justice".

The highly critical judgment came just hours after lawyers announced that Mr Jefferies had accepted a "substantial" payout from eight newspapers which had published libellous articles about the former teacher during the 48 hours he was under arrest last December.

The exact figure was not released, but the damages are likely to be "at least" six figures. The newspapers that have agreed to pay damages are the 'Sun', the 'Mirror', the 'Sunday Mirror', the 'Daily Mail', the 'Daily Record', the 'Daily Express', the 'Daily Star' and the 'Scotsman'.

The separate contempt charges against the 'Mirror' and the 'Sun' were brought by the Attorney General Dominic Grieves.

After a one-day trial the panel of three judges fined the 'Mirror' £50,000 (€57,000) for two articles after Mr Jefferies's arrest, and the 'Sun' was fined £18,000 for one article.

Ms Yeates went missing on December 17 last year from her flat in Bristol. Her body was found on Christmas Day. Mr Jefferies was arrested on December 30 and released two days later.

Police exonerated him of any involvement in Ms Yeates's murder. Dutch national Vincent Tabak has pleaded guilty to her manslaughter and will be tried for murder in September.

Irish Independent

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