The Scotsman and Daily Record were among a group of newspapers to have yesterday carried apologies to a man arrested and then released without charge over the murder, around Christmas, of a young woman in Bristol.
The pair were among eight newspaper titles reported to have financially settled with Christopher Jefferies, who was the landlord of landscape architect, Joanna Yeates.
And in a separate development, two newspapers, the Daily Mirror and The Sun, were found guilty of contempt of court for their reporting of Jefferies, while proceedings against him were active. They were both fined (£50,000 for the former and £18,000 for the latter), though at least as far as Mirror publishers, Trinity Mirror, are concerned, they are to appeal the judgement.
The eight newspapers are the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Daily Star – as well as the two Scotland-based titles.
A prominent panel within a page lead on page 16 of The Scotsman said: “Yesterday [Friday], The Scotsman and other newspapers apologised in court for having wrongly suggested that Mr Jefferies was involved in the killing of Joanna Yeates. We had also wrongly suggested that he had acted in an inappropriate, over-sexualised manner with his pupils in the past and that he invaded the privacy of his tenants in his capacity as a landlord of two flats.
“We accepted in court these allegations were untrue and that Mr Jefferies had no involvement in Ms Yeates’ killing.
“In recognition of the distress caused, we have agreed to pay substantial damages to Mr Jefferies plus his legal costs.”
The Record similarly fronted up, in a page two apology which read: “Yesterday [Friday], the Daily Record and other newspapers apologised in court for the publication of false allegations about the retired school master Christopher Jefferies, who, we had wrongly suggested, was suspected of having killed his former tenant Joanna Yeates.
“We also wrongly suggested that he had acted inappropriately towards his pupils in the past and invaded his tenants’ privacy.
“We accepted that these allegations were untrue and that, far from being involved in the crime, Mr Jefferies helped the police with their inquiries as best he could.
“We have agreed to pay substantial damages to Mr Jefferies, plus his legal costs.”
A next door neighbour of Yeates has pled guilty to manslaughter but not murder. He is expected to appear in court in October.