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Trinity Mirror Is Denied U.K. Top Court Appeal Over Murder Story

Trinity Mirror Plc can’t appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that its Daily Mirror tabloid and News Corp.’s Sun were in contempt of court for casting unfair suspicion on a murder victim’s landlord.

Britain’s top court today refused to hear the appeal. Both publishers were found in contempt in July 2011 over their coverage of the murder of landscape architect Joanna Yeates and the arrest of her landlord, Christopher Jefferies. Another man was later charged and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

“This was a very clear case of contempt,” the Supreme Court said today in an e-mailed statement. News Corp. withdrew its appeal application before the ruling, the court said.

A government media-ethics inquiry, triggered by the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, began by probing the relationship between the media and the public and heard testimony from Jefferies.

Trinity Mirror and the News Corp. unit were fined 50,000 pounds ($78,900) and 18,000 pounds, respectively, for their coverage after Yeates’s body was found on Christmas Day 2010. Police, who said she had been strangled, arrested Jefferies five days later.

Trinity Mirror spokesman Rich Ellis didn’t immediately return a call for comment. Daisy Dunlop, a spokeswoman for News Corp.’s U.K. unit, News International, declined to comment.

The U.K. attorney general found the Daily Mirror improperly suggested Jefferies was a “sexually perverted voyeur” who spied on tenants, that he was a friend of a convicted pedophile and that police considered him a prime suspect for a 1974 murder, according to the July 2011 judgment.

A month after the body was found, Vincent Tabak was charged with the murder and Jefferies was released from police bail, according to the judgment. Tabak later admitted he was responsible for killing Yeates and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was found guilty of murder in October.

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