Journalist hits out at 'disreputable' press - Press Gazette

Journalist hits out at 'disreputable' press

By Zoe Smith

A journalist who played a role in overturning Sion Jenkins’ murder conviction has attacked the press for "disreputable" reporting of his acquittal after a second jury failed to reach a verdict.

Bob Woffinden, who was thanked by Jenkins in the statement which he gave outside the Old Bailey, became involved in the case in 1998 after Jenkins was originally convicted of killing foster daughter Billie-Jo Jenkins.

The Appeal Court subsequently ordered a retrial.

Woffinden wrote articles in the national press claiming Jenkins’ innocence and has since been closely involved with some of his family and advised him on which lawyers to use.

He said: "Last Friday’s reporting of the verdict was the British press at its most disreputable. It’s absolute nonsense and the British public are not being informed about this case at all."

Several newspapers said evidence which may have led to Jenkins being convicted was not presented to the jury.

These included the Daily Mirror, which led with "The Lost Evidence" and the Daily Mail whose front page read "Billie-Jo: What the jury was not told."

Woffinden says he was "shellshocked"

by the "insensitivity" of the reporting, adding: "Who are the journalists writing these articles? I can tell you one thing, they weren’t at the trial.

Did they ring the defence lawyers about this case? No they didn’t. It’s amazing and it makes you ashamed to be a journalist."

Jenkins has always denied battering his 13-year-old foster daughter to death with a tent peg in 1997. The case rested on forensic evidence which has had conflicting interpretations.

Woffinden began his career on the NME in the ’70s, rising to associate editor.

He left to go freelance and has worked as a documentary producer for Yorkshire television. He has specialised in the area of miscarriages of justice since the mid-’80s, when he wrote a book on the subject.

He said he was attracted to the Jenkins case because he was not convinced the case against him "hung together". Having gone through "roomfuls"

of files, Woffinden said he has no doubt of Jenkins’ innocence. He said that Jenkins "had a very narrow window of opportunity, which even in the prosecution case could only have been about three minutes. It’s one thing to be able to do something in three minutes if you’re acting in a play, but if you’re behaving in real life then you need to lose your temper to an astonishing degree."

Reports that Jenkins was involved in a £100,000 bidding war with ITV and the BBC for a documentary were dismissed by Woffinden as "just nonsense".

He said: "The BBC doesn’t pay. You can’t have a bidding war if one side isn’t involved."

He also said Jenkins was not paid for an article in The Sunday Telegraph last weekend. Jenkins’ ex-wife, Lois, sold her memoirs of the ordeal to The Mail on Sunday, describing his rages and mood swings, for an undisclosed sum.