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Police deny Yeates landlord leak

A police force has rejected suggestions that officers leaked information about Joanna Yeates' landlord to journalists at the time of his arrest on suspicion of her murder.

The detective who led the investigation also defended the decision to keep retired teacher Christopher Jefferies on police bail for six weeks after Miss Yeates's killer was charged.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones said Mr Jefferies could only be formally eliminated as a suspect once forensic tests were completed on blood-stained trainers found hidden under a kitchen unit in his home.

Mr Jefferies told the Leveson Inquiry last month of his belief that police told reporters about the contents of a second witness statement he gave about Miss Yeates' disappearance from Bristol just before Christmas 2010.

He said he thought it was "likely" that officers told journalists they had suspicions about him, leading to "feverish" interest in him on December 29 2010, the day before he was wrongly arrested.

"It is worth emphasising that I had told no more than three neighbours about that second statement to the police and they all subsequently assured me that they were not the source of the information that then appeared in the media," Mr Jefferies told the inquiry.

But Avon and Somerset Police insisted it did not brief any journalists about the retired teacher.

Chief Constable Colin Port disputed the number of people whom Mr Jefferies told about the contents of his second statement to police.

"That is incorrect, and I completely understand why Mr Jefferies cannot recollect that," he said. "But I have counted eight people, including some people who were paid by the media for information."

Mr Jones said there were operational reasons why Mr Jefferies remained on police bail until March 4 2011, even though Miss Yeates's neighbour Vincent Tabak was charged with her murder on January 22 2011.


From Belfast Telegraph