In no surprise to anyone with a working brain – both The Sun and the Daily Mirror face contempt of court cases over their coverage of the arrest of landlord Chris Jefferies in the Jo Yeates murder case. The 25 year-old was found dead by dog walkers on Christmas Day last year in a case that would dominate the news landscape for quite a while.
A news case involving a suspicious death on Christmas Day *and* of a pretty white young female is always going to rank highly on the ‘news-o-meter’.
Anyway a few days after her body being discovered the landlord of her property was arrested and several newspapers had decided clearly he was guilty. All sorts was being written about him, mostly conjecture and some pupils at the school where he used to teach said he was a bit weird. Thus clearly painting the picture of a man who could go out and murder someone. Only problem was there was no evidence against him and he in fact was not guilty. Fellow resident in that block of apartments Vincent Tabac has already admitted manslaughter but denied murder – the trial is set for later this year.
Chris Jefferies is already undertaking legal action against The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Star. He has also decided to sue the police for arresting him – this has less of a chance of succeeding but the newspapers all have serious cases to answers and may very well be forking out huge sums of money to the former art teacher over their articles surrounding him at the time of his arrest.
However it is The Sun and Daily Mirror who said the more serious legal issues with contempt hearings that could land the editors and newspapers with serious problems.
Sometimes the media – certainly the written media – are too keen to jump on a bandwagon and not be honest and true with their journalism. The popular feeling was that he was weird and therefore guilty – so a public pillorying was more than justified.
I just hope that the newspapers take a long hard look at themselves and realise what they have done. The media just never jeopardise a trial and should always wait until the facts come out in open court. Making a decision based jointly on being populist and sales when it comes to criminal proceeding is both immoral and against the law. I suppose that sums up some sections of our gutter press at the moment.
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