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Christopher Jefferies: Police Express 'Regret'
The landlord of murdered landscape architect Joanna Yeates has received a letter from the police expressing "regret" over the way he was treated following his arrest.
Christopher Jefferies hailed the letter from Avon and Somerset Police as a "public vindication" over the way it handled his detention, bail and subsequent release without charge.
The letter, signed by Chief Constable Nick Gargan, acknowledges the "hurt" caused to the 68-year-old when officers failed to clear him publicly of suspicion over Miss Yeates' murder when releasing him from bail in March 2011.
Mr Jefferies, a retired schoolteacher, said: "It provides an important conclusion to the whole aftermath of what I had to go through following my arrest.
"As the letter itself explains, it provides the public vindication which was not given at the time I was released from police bail.
"Although the letter is addressed to me and is therefore expressing regret at what I had to endure, the letter also implicitly provides the public acceptance that the events didn't just affect me but affected a large circle of my relatives and friends."
Mr Jefferies was arrested on December 30, 2010 and questioned by detectives for two days after 25-year-old Miss Yeates was found dead five days earlier on Christmas Day.
Dutch national Vincent Tabak, who lived next door to her and her boyfriend Greg Reardon at 44 Canynge Road in Bristol, was jailed for life in October 2011 for her murder.
Mr Jefferies won damages from eight newspapers over stories about him after his arrest.
The publishers of the Daily Mirror and The Sun were also fined £50,000 and £18,000 respectively, plus legal costs after being found guilty of contempt of court.
During Tabak's trial it was revealed the killer had implicated Mr Jefferies by phoning the police and making false claims.
Mr Gargan was appointed chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police in March, replacing Colin Port, who was in charge at the time of Miss Yeates' murder.
In his letter to Mr Jefferies, Mr†Gargan said his arrest was an "integral step" in the investigation, but added: "I accept unequivocally that you played no part in the murder and that you are wholly innocent of the crime."
He went on: "I understand the length of time you spent on police bail caused you significant distress and inevitably prolonged the period of time when you remained in the public eye as someone who was still suspected of involvement in an appalling crime.
"The police did not make it clear publicly that you were no longer a suspect in the investigation as soon as you were released from bail on March 5, 2011.
"While it is not normal practice to make such a public statement, in the circumstances of the exceptional media attention your arrest attracted I acknowledge we should have considered this and I am very sorry for the suffering you experienced as a result."
Mr Gargan, who met Mr Jefferies last Friday, also said that all DNA, fingerprints and photographs taken of Mr Jefferies after his arrest had been destroyed.