Joanna Yeates’s landlord Chris Jefferies today accepted “substantial” undisclosed libel damages from eight newspapers over allegations made against him over her death.
The retired schoolmaster was not at London’s High Court for the settlement of his actions against the publishers of the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Scotsman.
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His solicitor, Louis Charalambous, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that “in recognition of the immense distress and damage” caused, they had all agreed to apologise for the “seriously defamatory” allegations made in the wake of the landscape architect’s December 2010 death and pay substantial damages.
Charalambous, of Simons Muirhead & Burton, said the newspapers had acknowledged the falsity of the allegations in question which were contained in over 40 articles published in late December 2010 and early January 2011.
Speaking outside court, he added: “Christopher Jefferies is the latest victim of the regular witch hunts and character assassination conducted by the worst elements of the British tabloid media.
“Many of the stories published in these newspapers are designed to ‘monster’ the individual, in flagrant disregard for his reputation, privacy and rights to a fair trial.
“These newspapers have now apologised to him and paid substantial damages but they do so knowing that once the conditional fee agreement rules are changed next year victims of tabloid witch hunts will no longer have the same access to justice.”
Lawyer Bambos Tsiattalou, senior partner at Stokoe Partnership, advised Jefferies following his arrest on30 December 2010 on suspicion of Ms Yeates’s murder – he was released on unconditional bail two days later and subsequently released from bail with no further action.
He said today: “We warned the media by letter, immediately following Mr Jefferies’ arrest, in the strongest possible terms to desist from publishing stories which were damaging or defamatory.
“We were dismayed that our warnings went unheeded and are pleased that the newspapers, in settling Mr Jefferies’ claims, have acknowledged the extent of the damage to his reputation.”