Thursday 12 May 2011

The Sun and Daily Mirror are facing contempt of court proceedings over the way they reported the hunt for the killer of Jo Yeates last December.

Daily Mirror Wed Dec 10 1980 - John Lennon Dead Art Print

The High Court has granted the attorney general permission to bring a case against the publishers of the tabloids.

The allegations concern stories about the arrest of the Bristol landscape architect's landlord, Chris Jefferies, who was later released without charge.

Miss Yeates's body was found on 25 December after an eight-day search.

She had vanished after returning to her basement flat in Bristol's Clifton area on 17 December. Her body was found on a grass verge about three miles away in Failand on Christmas Day.

Case 'arguable'
BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said it was extremely rare for contempt of court proceedings to be brought against newspapers.

It only happens when the reporting is thought to have created a "substantial risk" of seriously prejudicing a fair trial.

In this particular case it is especially unusual as Attorney General Dominic Grieve is acting in respect of someone who was not charged, our correspondent added.

Andrew Caldecott QC for the attorney general told judges that two Daily Mirror articles and one in the Sun article might have prejudiced a trial.

Judge Lord Justice Moses said there was clearly an "arguable" case against the newspapers and adjourned the proceedings so that a date for a hearing could be fixed.

The newspapers could be fined or individuals at the papers imprisoned if the case is proved.

The Sun said it was not commenting on the proceedings while the Daily Mirror is yet to respond to an inquiry from the BBC.

It comes after lawyers for Mr Jefferies launched separate libel and privacy claims against the Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Star.