Jailed serial killer Levi Bellfield has had three complaints about “inaccurate” media reports rejected by the Independent Press Standards Organisation
Bellfield’s brother, Richard Turner, complained on his behalf that stories which appeared on the Sun.co.uk and Get Surrey websites, and a story in the Daily Mirror in November last year breached clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice, covering accuracy.
The Sun.co.uk story, published on November 10, was headlined “SERIAL KILLER’S SICK LIES: Levi Bellfield may have lied about other murders to put tortured families through more misery says cop”; the Get Surrey story appeared on the same day under the headline headlined “Serial killer Levi Bellfield may have lied about other murders to hurt victims’ families”; and the Daily Mirror story was headlined “Serial killer Levi Bellfield may have lied about other murders to hurt victims’ families”.
All three report that after a two-year investigation into Bellfield’s “supposed confessions” to other murders, the police found no evidence to back them up.
They quoted a retired detective who had helped put Bellfield in prison as saying that “he likes this kind of attention, and to inflict pain on other people”.
Turner said Bellfield had never confessed to other murders – police assumed that he might be responsible for other unsolved murders, and began a number of investigations.
The two websites said the stories were based on the Daily Mirror’s report of comments made by a retired police officer who believed that the police investigation was sparked by alleged confessions from Bellfield which were later withdrawn.
The Committee acknowledged the difficulties the publications would have faced in seeking extra information which could corroborate the “confessions”, given the nature of the police investigation and the fact that Bellfield is in custody, and said it was satisfied that, in republishing the claim, they had taken a reasonable level care over the accuracy of the material published.
The Committee was not in a position to reach a finding as to whether Bellfield made any confession or admission in his interviews with police.
It did not consider that a correction was required, but welcomed the offers to put Bellfield’s denial on record.
It added that the articles did not suggest that Bellfield was guilty of further offending, and the allegation that he “lied…to hurt families” was clearly presented as conjecture on the part of a retired police officer, who was not involved in the further investigation.