Tim Ireland PA – Chris Jefferies

Chris Jefferies, who was arrested over Jo Yeates' murder but released without charge

Credit: Tim Ireland/PA

Chris Jefferies, who was arrested in January in connection with the murder of Bristol architect Joanna Yeates but later released without charge, has won "substantial damages" and a public apology from eight national newspapers over their coverage of his arrest.

Jefferies, a retired teacher, accepted an undisclosed sum in the high court this morning from the Sun, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Star, Daily Express, Daily Record, and the Scotsman.

Yeates' former landlord became the subject of intense media scrutiny after being arrested, prompting the attorney general Dominic Grieve to warn the media over possible contempt of court.

Following Jefferies release, Yeates' neighbour Vincent Tabak, a 33-year-old Dutch national, was arrested and admitted manslaughter. Tabak is awaiting trial.

Jefferies' solicitor, Louis Charalambous, said after this morning's hearing that his client was "the latest victim of the regular witch hunts and character assassination conducted by the worst elements of the British tabloid media".

"Many of the stories published in these newspapers are designed to 'monster' the individual, in flagrant disregard for his reputation, privacy and rights to a fair trial.

"These newspapers have now apologised to him and paid substantial damages, but they do so knowing that once the conditional fee agreement rules are changed next year victims of tabloid witch hunts will no longer have the same access to justice."

Earlier this month, Grieve launched a criminal case against the Sun and the Daily Mirror over their coverage of Jefferies' arrest. The ongoing case will seek to determine whether their coverage was in contempt of court.

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