Jefferies urges MPs to back Leveson

Gazette: Christopher Jefferies signs a letter to MPs asking them to support the Leveson recommendations on press regulation in full (PA/Hacked Off) Christopher Jefferies signs a letter to MPs asking them to support the Leveson recommendations on press regulation in full (PA/Hacked Off)

A man who won libel damages after his arrest over the murder of a woman has penned a letter to MPs asking them to support the Leveson recommendations on press regulation in full.

Christopher Jefferies, who was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Joanna Yeates in Bristol in December 2010 but released without charge, said in the letter: "I believe it must be implemented in full if we are ever to have a press that works in the public interest, and make sure the abuses we have seen never happen again.

"Over the months that Leveson has been sitting it has become clear that the vast majority of the public do not want the present self-regulation of the press, by the press, to continue.

"I was pleased to see this echoed in the opinion polls published recently in which the public say they want complaints about the press to be dealt with by an independent regulator.

"The latest YouGov poll, commissioned by the Media Standards Trust, confirmed that 79% of people are in favour of a press regulator established by law - and 82% say it is no longer acceptable for newspaper owners to control the press complaints system."

Mr Jefferies said the recommendations should not be misunderstood.

"There is a world of difference between statute that sets up an independent regulator and one that sought to regulate content, which no one is suggesting despite what the newspapers say."

Mr Jefferies, who let a flat in Bristol to Joanna Yeates and her boyfriend, was arrested after she was found dead in December 2010.

Dutch national Vincent Tabak was later convicted of Ms Yeates's murder and Mr Jefferies won damages from eight newspapers.

"The way I was treated by the newspapers in that period was without doubt the worst time of my life," he said in the letter, which was written on behalf of Hacked Off, campaigners for the victims of phone hacking and media intrusion.

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