Friday, 29 July 2011

Christopher Yeates received "substantial damages" from 8 newspapers...

A news story that has brightened up (what is a miserable Friday morning) for me is that Christopher Jefferies (the former landlord of Jo Yeates) has accepted "substantial damages" from eight different newspapers following articles that they ran after his arrest in December 2010.

He was of course proved to be completely innocent, as the Attorney General Dominic Grieve said that had Mr Jefferies been charged the articles could have prevented a fair trial.

This is an issue I feel quite strongly about.  I blogged about it previously here.  In the UK we have a presumption of innocence.  As such I do not feel that it is right that the media publish personal details about a person before they have been found guilty in a court of law.  Even giving out the name of a person is likely to prejudice people against them in future as mud sticks however untrue it may be.  I know that newspapers claim to have the public interest at heart and say that the people want to know, but I don't think they should know.  Until a person is proven guilty then they are still innocent, as such tabloid papers and the like should not be given any opportunity to treat them as a guilty party.

The articles I read with regards Mr Jefferies were irrelevant details regarding his personal life written in a way to prejudice the reader against him.  I am pleased that he has received damages for the obvious harm that this would have done to him.

A further ruling is expected on whether or not The Sun and The Mirror were in contempt of court.  I hope they are found guilty and that given the current anti media feeling following the News of the World disgrace this is another area of the murky waters that could be cleaned up.

Finally, once again my thoughts still go out to the family of Jo Yeates.  The real tragedy is that because of the actions of the media they have not really been able to move on as they should as the story keeps reappearing. 

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