The Media

The influence of the media in this case has been immense, and rarely helpful. There have been some serious and responsible efforts to examine the facts. More often, though, accurate information was discarded in favour of innuendo and sensationalism. An analysis of the relationship between certain newspapers and Sussex Police in the late 1990s is instructive.

In December 2010, when the murder of Joanna Yeates was first being investigated, the Attorney General felt it necessary to remind the media “that the contempt of court rules are there to protect the rule of law and the fair trial process”, and that there could be “substantial risk of serious prejudice” from the use of material that was “exceptionally adverse and hostile”.

Unfortunately, at the time of the Billie-Jo Jenkins murder no such restraint was apparent.

  • News of the World : Today The News of the World no longer exists. In the years after the murder it printed a number of untrue stories about the the case. Most damaging and influential was the story that appeared on 9 August 1998. Sensationally headlined “I DID kill Billie Jo”, it was written as an “Exclusive’ by Ian Edmondson, then the crime correspondent for the News of the World.

  • A tale of two newspapers. August 2010 : Two years after Siôn Jenkins made a compensation claim that was refused, the Daily Mail chose to tell the story as if it was news. It used the compensation story as it had in 2007, as a hook on which to hang some pointless but viciously intrusive comment about him. Interestingly though, this time an old news story in the Daily Mail prompted extensive and thoughtful comment in the Guardian.

  • All things considered… : A BBC Radio Wales programme in 2008 resulted in a formal complaint by Lois Jenkins.

  • Daily Mail Concoction : On 12 February 2007 the Daily Mail inexplicably carried a totally untrue front page headline about Siôn Jenkins, alleging that he had made a claim for compensation. This was the pretext for the article, but its purpose was to launch a gratuitous attack on Siôn Jenkins by dredging up old news.

  • Press statement. 12 February 2007 : Following publication of the Daily Mail article Bindman and Partners, who had acted for Siôn Jenkins, issued a press statement.

  • Media Frenzy 2006 : Much of the media reaction to Siôn Jenkins’ acquittal was hostile in its content and tone.

  • The whole truth? February 2006 : The Mail on Sunday: Lois Jenkins talks about the truth and reveals a great deal about herself in a piece published three days after Siôn Jenkins’ acquittal.

  • Dissenting voices : While a general media frenzy broke out in the wake of the acquittal, more independent minds applied more rigorous thinking.

  • Media Silence in 2005 : There was little media coverage of the third trial in spite of its signficance.

  • The burglar’s confession. : As compelling scientific evidence started to be given in the Court of Appeal, a curious distraction appeared in some parts of the media.

  • Daily Mail — April 2004 : Outline of an article published in he Daily Mail on 24 April 2004.8

  • Bob Woffinden Reviews the Case : May 03 : The text of article called “Why I couldn’t have murdered Billie -Jo” published in the Daily Mail

  • The Wife’s Story : Analysis of the full-page article written by Lois Jenkins in The Sunday Times in February 2003.

  • Two years on: the facts reviewed : Text of an article published in The Sunday Telegraph on 2 July 2000.

  • Trail of Guilt : Immediately after Siôn Jenkins’ first appeal failed, the Sussex Police’s view was highlighted in this BBC 1 television programme.

  • Trail of Guilt Adjudication : An account of the complaint brought by Siôn Jenkins’ legal team to the Broadcasting Standards Commission

  • Channel Four Investigates : This important piece of television journalism had a profound impact in the early stages of the case.

  • Trial and Error : The screening of this programme was initially blocked by Lois Jenkins taking out an injunction. It was finally shown in September 1999.

  • Trial and Error Adjudication : Having successfully blocked the first attempt to screen Trial and Error, Lois Jenkins submitted a complaint about the programme to the Broadcasting Standards Commission after it was finally shown.