Monitor all the news of the world: The Sun, Response to the tabloid's publication of a topless picture of Sophie Rhys-Jones
Saturday 29 May 1999
WE ALL make mistakes - and when makes one it's always tin-hat time. And yesterday there were a few tin-hats needed at Wapping. We can't help thinking that a lot of the people who are protesting their outrage have a different agenda to Sophie and the Palace. They have an axe to grind against because they don't like us and they can't stand our success.
THIS IS soft-core porn, not journalism. The Sophie Rhys-Jones pictures have - as any cub reporter could have predicted - been referred to the Press Complaints Commission. The commission should now adjudicate not only on the pictures, but also on every single Sun front page this week. Either the Code of Practice - with its explicit privacy clause - counts for something and will be enforced, or else it is just a meaningless fig leaf. Meanwhile , which has repeatedly howled about the threat privacy legislation would pose to a free press, should reflect on the damage it has itself inflicted on that cause by a single pointless act of infantile voyeurism.
WHAT IS it with Rupert Murdoch? He knows how people can suffer in their private lives. When his own marriage broke up recently, he expressed an understandable desire to avoid intrusive publicity on the subject, and most papers obliged. Yet his papers offer no such mercy to other members of the human race, particularly if they are British. He may believe the peddling of such stories is the only way to boost circulation and, in the very short term, he may be right. But the message from the public that came with the death of the Princess was that the bad tabloid ways should die in the tunnel with her. Mr Murdoch still doesn't get it. Perhaps, being an old man, he never will. But the message is louder and more urgent than ever.
THE PURCHASE and publication of the pictures, as acknowledged last night, was clearly wrong. It should be a matter of relief to all sections of the newspaper industry, even those that may have hoped to benefit from a rival's discomfiture, that has so quickly apologised to Sophie Rhys-Jones for its lapse of judgment. Under a voluntary system of regulation, that which cannot be defended in spirit should not be defended by the chopping of words. To do otherwise is to threaten the always frail support for regulation itself. Sorry is now the only word which will bring any good at all.
BURN IT, bin it, bury it. Whatever you do, don't buy it. A boycott is the only language will understand. is completely out of touch. It may have been in tune with the uncaring Thatcher years but now the world has moved on, leaving stuck in the brutish past. Unbelievably, had seemed to think it was all a bit of fun. An editorial verging on the illiterate concluded: "Edward is a lucky man. So are the Royals." Only a sadist could consider something so hurtful to be fun. Its apology will fool no one into thinking that the paper truly regrets the upset caused.
THE PAPER involved in the publication of the pictures had no alternative but to apologise. The pity is that the reputation of the entire British Press will now suffer, even though many newspapers try to behave with a sense of responsibility for which they are not always credited. The lesson has to be learned. Unless the Press voluntarily embraces the spirit as well as the letter of self-regulation, the politicians - who would love the opportunity to clip the wings of the media - will move in with statutory powers. All in all, this has been a sorry week for the British press.
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