Twitter turns on the Mail’s Liz Jones over Jo Yeates

Jan 17, 2011
Jonathan Harwood

Article causes uproar as writer laments Jo’s favourite bar, Bristol's lamp posts, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge

Daily Mail writer Liz Jones has penned an article on the murder of Jo Yeates (above) that is set to become one of the most celebrated pieces of journalism for years, taking its place alongside Jan Moir's infamous take on the death of Stephen Gately in the pantheon of pieces that have caused uproar on social networking site Twitter and beyond.

The article, published under the headline 'Is lovely Jo becoming just another thumbnail on the police website?', recounts Jones's visit to Bristol to retrace the last steps of the 25-year-old landscape architect, who was found murdered on Christmas Day.

In her piece, Jones laments that Yeates's final evening was spent in a bar called the Ram, which does not meet with her approval. "I wish she had spent what were probably her last hours on earth somewhere lovelier," is her sensitive opening gambit.

Later she pays a visit to the supermarket where Yeates was seen buying a pizza, and pontificates on its significance. "The choice tells me Jo wanted a lovely life, something above the ordinary."

Jones also professes herself less than impressed that the murder could lead to the introduction of better street lighting. She explains: "So the antique, lovely [lamp posts] are to disappear to be replaced by ugly ones because of something even uglier."

Ratcheting up the banality even further, Jones then navigates her way to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and finds she does not have the right change to pay the toll.

Her attempt to get across by paying 30p, rather than 50p, does not work, and her article reaches an astonishing and excruciating climax as she solemnly reflects: "Isn't it interesting that you can snatch a young woman's life away from her in the most violent, painful, frightening way possible, take away her future children, her future Christmases, take away everything she loves, and yet there are elaborate systems in place to ensure you do not cross a bridge for only 30 pence?"

Perhaps understandably, given that even fictional Private Eye columnist Glenda Slagg would struggle to emulate some of the prose, the article was seized upon by Twitter users and bloggers taking her to task for her insensitivity.

As the hashtag #lizjonesreports began trending on Twitter, users mocked her piece, using a simple formula - a deeply inappropriate story idea ending with Jones's byline.

Thousands of users tweeted their suggestions. One user, called slanknhash, wrote: "As the bomb went off and wrecked the bus, I wondered once again if Ken Livingstone's congestion charge was really working." Another tweeter, BarnabyEdwards, proposed: "Sipping my latte at Dachau, I mused on how young gay men seem destined to die in dubious circumstances."

GrainneMaguire proposed that Jones should star in a version of the Steve Coogan comedy show, The Trip, "where she visits the best top end restaurants following the trail of The Yorkshire Ripper".

Satire site, the Daily Mash, also published a near perfect spoof version of the piece. Community websites in Bristol were also less than impressed. One suggested that "she threw this article together with all the care and awareness of somebody getting dressed in the dark".

The reaction among readers of the article on the Mail website itself was equally outraged, with the vast majority attacking the author and the nature of the piece.

However, perhaps her take on the Yeates murder should not come as a major surprise. Jones is billed by the Mail as "funny, outrageous and downright rude". Already this year she has suggested that Kate Middleton should not wear a silk wedding dress when she marries Prince William in April, because silk production leads to the death of innocent moths.

She was also incensed by the news that David and Victoria Beckham were expecting a fourth child. "Does Victoria not realise that very soon the population of Planet Earth will be unsustainable, estimated to be 10 billion by the year 2050?" she raged.

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