Jo Yeates' landlord settles libel case out of court
The landlord of landscape architect Jo Yeates has accepted "substantial damages" from eight newspapers over libel claims, his lawyer has said.
Christopher Jefferies, from Bristol, was suing the papers over articles published when he was arrested on suspicion of her murder last December.
He accepted an undisclosed sum and public apology, his lawyer said.
Miss Yeates' neighbour, Dutch national Vincent Tabak, 33, has admitted her manslaughter and awaits a murder trial.
Mr Jefferies, a retired teacher, was proven to be "entirely innocent", Attorney General Dominic Grieve has said.
Libel laws in England and Wales
- Exist to protect the reputation of individuals and corporations from unjustified attack
- Covers written publications, pictures and broadcast material
- Generally speaking, applies to statements that expose someone to hatred, cause them to be shunned, lower them in others' estimations or disparage their work
- Claimant must prove the statement is libellous, refers to him and has been published/broadcast to others
- Defences to libel action include proving the statements are substantially true or are "fair comment" - meaning they are honest opinion based on true facts
- Accurate reports of many court hearings and Parliamentary proceedings are protected from libel action
- Many cases are settled out of court because of the difficulty and expense of proving and defending claims
Miss Yeates 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 on Christmas Day.
Mr Jefferies was not at the High Court in London to hear about the settlement with the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Scotsman.
However, his lawyer Louis Charalambous said his client was "satisfied" with the outcome.
"Christopher Jefferies is the latest victim of the regular witch-hunts and character assassinations conducted by the worst elements of the British tabloid media," he said.
Mr Charalambous complained that some press reports were intended to "monster" individuals, with a "flagrant disregard" for their privacy and rights to a fair trial.
Mr Jefferies is also pursuing a civil case against the police for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, his legal team revealed.
Mr Charalambous had told the judge Mr Jefferies had taught English at Clifton College in Bristol for 34 years and was of good character.'Entirely untrue'
Several articles alleged that - as a landlord - he invaded the privacy of tenants, while others suggested he was an associate of a convicted paedophile and linked him to an unsolved murder from 1974. However, Mr Charalambous told the court all the allegations were "entirely untrue".
In particular, the newspapers accepted that Mr Jefferies had nothing to do with Miss Yeates' death and had helped the police as much as he could. There was no basis to suggest, as some reports had done, that he had ever acted inappropriately with any pupil while a teacher, they conceded.
A separate ruling is expected later over whether the Sun and Mirror were in contempt of court over "hostile" articles published about Mr Jefferies.
Mr Grieve said that had Mr Jefferies been charged, the articles could have prevented him having a fair trial.