A Good Day for Eccentrics, Part 1

You may remember the media witch-hunt that followed the Jo Yeates’s murder late last year. For several weeks the chief suspect, we were told, was her landlord, a retired teacher named Chris Jefferies. Why? There was no actual evidence or anything like that. There was just something about him and his appearance that a handful of tabloid hacks playing the part of amateur sleuth did not like.

His lawyer later argued that during this period his client was ‘monstered’ by the tabloid media. He certainly was. And one of the most interesting elements of this was how much of this monstering involved the word ‘eccentric’.

Usually the ‘eccentric’ label tells us there’s nothing to worry about. He’s not mad, he’s just eccentric. This was different. Jefferies was ‘eccentric’ in the sinister sense of the word, as in, his eccentricity makes him unpredictable, you should be wary of this eccentric and his eccentricities, which struck me as a strange and ominous use of the word.

Anyway, the reason I mention Jefferies is that yesterday he won his libel case in the High Court. He was paid ‘substantial’ damages on behalf of The Sun and The Mirror.

A good day for eccentrics.



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