Eight British newspapers, including the Murdoch-owned Sun, were on Friday forced to pay “substantial'' libel damages and offer a public apology to a retired school teacher, Christopher Jefferies, for making false allegations against him after he was arrested briefly last December over the murder of a young woman landscape architect, Jo Yeates.
The amount was not disclosed but Mr Jeffries' lawyer Louis Charalambous said he was “satisfied'' with the settlement reached with the Sun, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Record, Daily Express, Daily Star and Scotsman. “Christopher Jefferies is the latest victim of the regular witch-hunts and character assassinations conducted by the worst elements of the British tabloid media,” he said.
Mr. Charalambous said the newspapers in question tried to portray his client as a potential killer of Miss Yeates and published allegations of inappropriate behaviour with his pupils in the past. “These newspapers have now apologised to him and paid substantial damages,'' he said.
In a separate move, the Daily Mirror and the Sun, were ordered by the High Court to pay a total fine of £68,000 to Mr Jeffries for casting doubt on his character while reporting the Jo Yeates murder case.
They were held in contempt of the court with the Daily Mirror being fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000.
The case was brought by the Attorney-General Dominic Grieve on grounds that the reports published in the two newspapers would have posed a “substantial risk” of prejudicing any trial Mr Jefferies might have faced.