Ordeal of landlord ‘in web of falsehoods’

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Joanna Yeates was not Tabak’s only victim. Her landlord Chris Jefferies was arrested, questioned by detectives and pilloried by the national media while the killer stayed silent.

Mr Jefferies, 66, described his ordeal of being arrested on suspicion of Miss Yeates’s murder as “a kind of rape” and said the painful experience had left him feeling “violated”.

The retired English teacher, who lived in a neighbouring flat to the one he rented to Miss Yeates, has accepted “substantial” undisclosed libel damages from eight newspapers over allegations made against him.

He said his early-morning arrest on December 30 last year had been “a bolt from the blue”. After being questioned for three days, he was released on bail. It was not until March 4 that police confirmed he was no longer a suspect.

In the meantime, newspaper headlines focused on his eccentric appearance and reported other lurid allegations.

“My identity has been violated,” Mr Jefferies said. “My privacy had been intruded upon. I don’t think it would be too strong a word to say it was a kind of rape that had taken place.

“I had no suspicion whatsoever that I might be considered a suspect.

“The whole process of being arrested and taken into custody is really designed, as far as its effect on me is concerned, to strip you of your own identity.

“Your clothes are taken away, your possessions are taken away, you are held incommunicado to a very large degree.

“Then these extraordinary falsehoods are woven around this now almost personality-less identity, so it’s very unsettling.”

Mr Jefferies is to participate in an inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal and press intrusion, led by Lord Justice Leveson.