Cleared nurse to sue over press coverage

A nurse cleared of tampering with saline solution at a Stockport hospital is planning to sue national newspapers over prejudicial coverage following her arrest.

Twenty-seven year-old Rebecca Leighton spent more than six weeks in custody after being arrested by police investigating suspicious deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

She was freed on September 2 after proceedings against her were discontinued.

She told ITV’s This morning, in her first interview since being cleared, that she was still living with the effects of the press coverage following her arrest in July.

‘I can’t walk down the street on my own because I’m kind of a bit scared really,’she said. ‘Someone’s always got to be with me all the time.”

According to a report by ITV News’ Daisy McAndrew, one reason why the judge refused Leighton bail was because the coverage was such that her life would be in danger.

Her lawyer, media specialist Charlotte Harris, told McAndrew that her client now intends to sue newspapers whose coverage amounted to contempt of court, though she did not single out any titles.

Harris said: ‘The paper’s would have known when they took a photograph of her published it… and then put a headline underneath it that suggested this was the face of a murderer, that they were dealing in a huge cliché, and that obviously it was going to be prejudicial.

The case echoes that of Chris Jefferies, the Bristol landlord accused and later cleared of murdering architect last December.

In July Jefferies accepted ‘substantial’undisclosed libel damages from eight newspapers over the coverage including The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Scotsman.

The High Court also ruled that The Sun and Daily Mirror’s coverage was in contempt of court.

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