A confession: no inside information was used in yesterday’s post about the conduct of the Fourth Estate over the Joanna Yeates murder case. But it seems that I was right about one thing: too many hacks had been assuming that Ms Yeates’ landlord Chris Jefferies was guilty even before the police had finished questioning him.
So it was no surprise when the news came through that Jefferies had been released on police bail last night. This demonstrated that being single, mildly eccentric and having undisciplined hair was not yet an offence in the UK. But that did not get through to the press pack, as today’s offerings from some titles show.
The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre’s hacks at the Mail are still describing Jefferies as “Prof Strange”, and their disappointment that he has not returned to his flat in Clifton (so nobody to chase and photo) is palpable. But the article rallies with the recycling of yesterday’s story about the death of Jefferies’ mother.
Over at the Mirror, Jefferies’ release was described as “dramatic”, although no explanation is given as to why, if this was the case, none of the assembled hackery noticed until the police told them. To keep their spirits up, the Mirror reminds its readers that Jefferies “is still a suspect”, which means they reckon he did it, so there.
But the nastiest comment is not from the tabloids: the Maily Telegraph weighs in with the sub-heading “The landlord of Joanna Yeates, the landscape architect murdered and dumped by a roadside [my emphasis], has been released on bail”. That’s very thinly disguised code for “we also think he did it”.
The Telegraph, of course, has one more reason to put the boot in to Jefferies: he’s a supporter of the Liberal Democrats.