Christopher Jefferies : Beware of Headlines

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Wednesday/Thursday 10th/11th December 2014

Last night was the conclusion of The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies – a drama based on the true life murder of Joanna Yeates and the demonisation of her landlord, Christopher Jefferies, by the press.

The press – and it seems the police – thought that Jefferies was guilty based on his bachelorhood, his hair-sprayed comb-over and his books. He was a difficult intellectual type – not quite as camp as the programme depicted – but not far off it.

Because Joanna was young and pretty, and she lived in an aspirational area, and she was found dead on Christmas day, the news story was huge. It filled up the front pages and rolling news for weeks… It was almost like a holiday crime melodrama – a Christie for Christmas…  And the dramatisation was as beautifully filmed as a sentimental Wintry rom-com. It even had some funny lines, and a potential girlfriend in the underused Anna Maxwell Martin as a shop owner.

Part one – which focused on the immediate aftermath of the murder was more successful than part two which focused on suing the papers and Jefferies appearing at the Levenson Inquiry… What it needed was a journalist justifying the coverage… much as I loathe tabloids – there’s no drama when you don’t let one side speak.

And I would love to know why journalists think it’s ok to accuse someone of a crime before they’ve been tried and convicted? Or why they think it’s ok to expose an ordinary person to the full weight of misinformed public opinion?

In the endless ‘missing child’ McCann case – which was mentioned in the drama – the press regularly accuse someone of the crime – putting up photos or artists’ impressions. Accusing gypsies or people with German accents – ruining countless lives – and yet one word against the parents will see you hounded on Sky News and in The Daily Mirror as if you were a monster. They encourage the public to get over-involved with things they can’t really know about and then they attack them for being over-involved in things they can’t really know about.

It’s brutal and weird and I wonder if they’re ashamed of it?

Here’s a journalist huffing about the accuracy of the drama :

 http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2014/dec/10/turning-the-story-of-christopher-jefferies-into-a-tv-drama-fails-to-redress-the-balance-of-justice

 

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