‘Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.’
Bearing this in mind I want to raise the case study of Christopher Jefferies, an innocent man wrongly accused for involvement in Joanna Yeates’ murder. Not only was Jefferies accused of murder but was also vilified by the press through harassment, false accusations, and out-right lies.
Even after Jefferies was released on bail the media continued to publish articles that included ‘‘seriously defamatory” allegations and persuaded the audience to doubt his innocence, with articles using ill-gained quotes such as, ‘weird’, ‘strange’, and ‘peeping tom.’ Journalists and paparazzi camped outside his home and followed him around whenever he would try to leave to the point where Jefferies accused them of harassment and invasion of privacy. Jefferies was later released from bail and the police released a statement that he was no longer a suspect, however the tormenting didn’t end there. Jefferies had been accused of many things within the misleading articles and many of his close friends had been persuaded by the press not to trust him. Jefferies was told about how he could sue the press for their witch-hunt and by taking up a legal battle against 8 newspapers, Jefferies won an undisclosed libel pay-out that is said to be ‘substantial’ and received an official apology from the police and the press industry. In July, the Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000 for contempt of court over their coverage of Jefferies.
What price do you put on a person’s reputation? Jefferies speaking after the ordeal said, ‘It was like having your personality left in ruins.’
How is it fair to make an innocent person feel like this? Especially when it is said that you are innocent until proven guilty…
What do you think?
A two-part TV series was produced that would show the case from start to finish and would highlight the ‘destructive nature’ of the press. I recommend watching the series as I found it very eye-opening. Part 1 and Part 2.
All the quotes and facts were found by researching articles available at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/christopher-jefferies