The Sun and Daily Mirror face contempt trial next week

The trial of two national newspapers accused of contempt of court in their coverage of the killing of landscape architect Joanna Yeates is to start on Tuesday and is expected to last two days.

The trial will be held at the Royal Court of Justice in central London.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve obtained permission from the High Court on 12 May to pursue contempt proceedings against the publishers of The Sun and Daily Mirror over the publication of articles in relation to the death of Miss Yeates, 25, of Bristol, last December.

He alleged that that two articles which appeared in the Daily Mirror and one published by The Sun after after police arrested Ms Yeates’ landlord, Chris Jefferies, might have prejudiced a trial.

Jefferies was later released without charge.

The Attorney General argued that the strict liability rule under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 is not merely concerned with causing a substantial risk of serious prejudice to the trial, but is also concerned to protect the integrity of the course of justice in the proceedings, and applied to matters which might impede it.

The High Court was told that both Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mirror, and News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, deny liability for contempt.

Mr Jefferies’ solicitor, Louis Charalambous, said after the High Court hearing that his client expected the newspaper owners to sack editors if they were found guilty of contempt.

A 33-year-old engineer has admitted killing Ms Yeates. Dutchman Vincent Tabak pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied murder at a hearing earlier in May.

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