Tuesday 8 March 2011

Lawyers await instructions from cleared Jefferies

Now that Chris Jefferies, the landlord of murdered Jo Yeates, has finally been cleared by the police after nine weeks on bail, his lawyers are awaiting instructions over possible legal actions over press coverage, according to the Independent.

It says: "Paul Okebu, of the solicitors Stokoe Partnership, said he was awaiting instruction from his client over possible legal action against media groups,following what Anna Soubry, a Conservative MP, described as an 'outrageous' campaign of 'vilification'."

Soubry's private member's Anonymity Bill which would make it illegal for the media to name someone arrested or questioned by police until they are charged, failed to win Government support.

But Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, is conducting a review of the 1981 Contempt of Court Act, which makes it an offence to publish information "tending to interfere with the course of justice, in particular legal proceedings".

However, media lawyer Mark Stephens told the Independent he did not believe the Jefferies case merited a change in the law. "Being named can actually prompt members of the public, who are unknown to the suspect, to come forward and confirm an alibi," he said.

"No one's reputation is likely to be enhanced by being interviewed by the police in connection with a murder but mud doesn't stick, it quickly washes off," Stephens said.

The Independent adds: "Jefferies could pursue an invasion of privacy case against media groups. His solicitor said his client was now considering a series of requests to speak publicly about his experience."

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