He was alleged to have acted in an inappropriate, over-sexualised manner with his pupils in the past. Untrue.
He was alleged to have invaded the privacy of his tenants who occupied the two flats he let. Untrue.
It was suggested that he was an associate of a convicted paedophile and that there were grounds to investigate whether he was responsible for an unsolved murder dating back to 1974. Untrue in every respect.
And, of course, it was suggested he was responsible for the murder of Ms Yeates. Untrue.
I thought that tabloid newspapers had access to expensive lawyers to help them avoid this sort of stuff getting into print with such costly and embarrassing results. The charitable explanation is that they either didn't have access to such legal advice, or that nobody thought to run this story past the lawyers. The less charitable theory is that they did a Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company-style risk analysis, knowing full well that their story might be dodgy, but deciding to run with it because the potential increase in sales outweighed the potential fines:
The brazen nature of Jefferies treatment certainly accords with the point made by legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg in the latest Without Prejudice podcast that newspapers appear to have no legal expertise on hand to consider whether an article may be in contempt of court.
Another possibility is that the newspapers know full well the risks and choose to take them on the basis of a cold financial calculation; additional sales now make up for potential fines later. In this case, the newspapers have also apparently settled a libel claim brought by Jefferies, so it will have cost them more than the contempt fines.
UK Human Rights Blog
This is the sort of thing that makes me hold our tabloid press in pretty low regard. Which, according to Professor Frank Furedi, writing in Spiked, makes me a fully paid-up member of the cosmopolitan elite:
For the cosmopolitan elites, the tabloid is a lowlife and degenerate form of media, which could only possibly be considered satisfying or interesting by morally inferior people. For the millions of people who buy these papers, they are merely sources of news and entertainment.
This rusty opinion has been wiped down and wheeled out quite a lot since the 'bloids found themselves on the receiving end of a well-deserved monstering, post hack-gate. Draw attention to real harm being done to real people, generally with no credible public interest defence and you're labelled a stuck-up member of a pleb-hating liberal elite, so yar boo sucks to you. You'd think a professor of sociology could come up with an argument that relies on something more than a large helping of name-calling with a serving of tu quoque on the side. For the record, bullying is bullying, a lie is a lie and a smear is a smear, and anybody who claims a get out of jail free card for any of the above on the grounds that it's 'just part of popular culture' has lost both the argument and the plot.