This morning, former murder suspect Chris Jefferies testified to the Leveson Inquiry concerning his treatment by the tabloids in the wake of the murder of his tenant, Joanna Yeates.
Most people who are traduced by the tabloids experience only annoyance or the disparaging of their reputations. For Chris Jefferies though, the stakes were considerably higher. For some background to his case, click here and follow the links, but briefly, the retired schoolmaster was the landlord of a property in Bristol. In December last year, one of his tenants, Joanna Yeates, disappeared in mysterious circumstances. On Christmas Day, her body was found dumped in a country lane. As her landlord and the last person (bar one) to see Miss Yeates alive, Mr Jefferies was a bona fide murder suspect. After he was arrested and detained for some considerable time, the tabloids thought he was fair game, especially as he had a rather unusual hairstyle.
Today, with a marked deficit of hair, and indeed looking a bit like the presiding judge, Brian Leveson (compare photographs below), he went into some detail about the way he was mistreated, not only by the tabloids but by one of the broadsheets.
Lord Justice of Appeal Brian Leveson presides over his Inquiry as Chris Jefferies testifies on the morning of Monday, November 28, 2011.
His full testimony and that of all the other witnesses can be found on the dedicated Leveson Inquiry website.
Mr Jefferies was a lucky man for several reasons. One is that his friends ralied round; another is that the actual perpetrator, Vincent Tabak, was shortly brought to book. The other is that the allegations against him were so outrageous and so clearly over the top that he had little trouble in finding a solicitor who would act for him on a no-win/no-fee basis after he decided to mount a libel action against his defamers.
He is though conscious of the fact that not everyone who is so traduced by the gutter press will be in that position, and clearly he hopes this Inquiry will lead to positive changes in the tabloid culture that will prevent other, perhaps lesser men, suffering the way he did.