Judge slaps British tabloids on the wrist for perversion of course of justice


Two leading British tabloid  newspapers are set to be fined for rushing into judgement over allegations of murder against a suspect.

Sun and Mirror newspapers allegedly vilified an innocent man over the murder of landscape architect Joanna Yeates. The alleged accused was a close friend of the deceased.

The Sun and Daily Mirror were condemned by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge for articles published after the arrest of Chris Jefferies last December.

In finding both papers guilty of contempt of court, Lord Judge ruled that both papers perverted the course of justice by a rushed conclusion on the murder suspect .

The Judge said: “In our judgment, as a matter of principle, the vilification of a suspect under arrest is a potential impediment to the course of justice.”

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Owen, said potential witnesses could have been discouraged from coming forward to give evidence because they did not wish to be associated with the suspect.

“The problem is that the evidence at trial may be incomplete just because its existence may never be known, or indeed may only come to light after conviction, ” he said.

On the Daily Mirror articles, the judge said: “The material in the two publications of the Daily Mirror is extreme. True, it does not positively assert that Mr Jefferies was guilty of involvement in paedophile crimes, or the unsolved murdered many years earlier.

“It is submitted that the articles were unflattering, suggesting that he was an eccentric loner. So they were. But they went very much further.

“It was asserted, in effect directly, that his standard of behaviour, so far as sexual matters were concerned was unacceptable, and he was linked to both the paedophile offences and the much earlier murder offence.”

On the Sun, he added: “The articles in the one issue of the Sun were written and laid out in such a way that they would have conveyed to the reader of the front page and the two inside pages over which the stories were spread that he was a stalker, with an obsession with death, who let himself into the flats of other occupants of the building where Miss Yeates lived, and that he had an unhealthy interest in blonde

Evening Standard