While the lower end of the Fourth Estate is, on the whole, reflecting on the possibility that their behaviour could land them with another humiliation similar to that inflicted after the Robert Murat case – as I noted the other day – one paper is still shamelessly leading its readers over the Joanna Yeates murder case.
Yes, Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are not only offering a 50,000 note reward – an established method for putting on sales, and a payment they are most unlikely to have to make – but are giving the impression that they are leading their unfortunate readership.
How so? Well, today’s Sun carries the story “Jo cops search college rifle range”, which tells how the police are checking out a now disused rifle range in the grounds of Clifton College – which is also just round the back of the property on Canynge Road where Ms Yeates and her partner rented a flat from former schoolmaster Chris Jefferies.
Nothing wrong with reporting that – but what the Sun is not (yet) telling its readers, and which is well known, at least around Clifton, is that there is a connection between the rifle range and Chris Jefferies. Back in 2005, Jefferies lead opposition to a proposal to redevelop the site and build two houses on it, and the photo of him, together with other campaigners, is widely available.
So the Sun has its next “story” already in place: they can thus bring their editorial line back to the unfortunate Jefferies, however tenuous the logic. Maybe the former teacher should look at how much mud was thrown at Murat, and allowed to stick, before the papers were taken to the cleaners.
Then, Jefferies should make contact with a lawyer, and whenever the cheaper end of the press steps over the line, take action. There is no other course that will dissuade them: the PCC is utterly toothless, and asking nicely is unlikely to even bring a reply.
[UPDATE: As Liz Church has pointed out in the comments, Jefferies has retained the services of the Stokoe Partnership, although you need to look closely at the press coverage to see a mention of them - this piece from the Sun is typical. Another Robert Murat it is, then]