How The Press Used And Abused Joanna Yeates
WITH interest we note that at the same time as the Sun is serialising Kate McCann’s book, it is facing contempt of court proceedings over their reports on Chris Jefferies, the man given the Full Murat in the story of Joanna Yeates’s murder.
As the BBC reports:
The High Court has granted the attorney general permission to bring a case against the publishers of the tabloids.
Mr Jefferies is thought to be taking legal action against various news organs that monstered him (the Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Star) and also taking legal action against the police, who went against the usual protocol of saying the man was “helping us with our enquiries” and named him as a suspect.
Mr Jefferies’ solicitors, London-based Stokoe Partnership, say:
“…in relation to a claim for false imprisonment, trespass and breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 against the Avon and Somerset Constabulary… Mr Jefferies has given notice of a claim to the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary in relation to his arrest on 30th December 2010 and his subsequent detention in police custody. Mr Jefferies will not be making any statement about these claims at the present time.”
The allegation is that the papers created a “substantial risk” of seriously prejudicing a fair trial. In adopting Miss Yeates as their own pet cause – the Sun stuck its logo on her posters – did the papers let her down?
In the race for news and sensation, the Star and Mirror even managed to get the victim’s name wrong. Haivng reeduiced her to “Jo”, they forget her name was Joanna, creating front-page news on the search for “Joanne”.
The relevance to the McCanns is that they were libelled by a press that could not stick to the basic facts. The papers make a song and dance of caring and go through the motions of supporting campaigns for justice and truth, but this apparent corruption of the rudimentary facts exposes them as being interested in only one thing: selling papers.
And that is fair. They are not state-owned organs. They are private enterprises that live and die by their readers’ tastes. Good they try to make money and compete for stories, approaching it from different angles to give readers the choice of having their prejudices conformed or challenged. But when the truth is corrupted to sell the story, journalism and the reader are badly let down.