Holy Moly! Even a celebrity website takes pity on Britney

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The celebrity gossip website Holy Moly is best known for stories on the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. But for once the website is taking a moral stance, adding its voice to increasing criticism of the paparazzi and saying it will not publish any more intrusive photographs of celebrities.

In a statement, Holy Moly said it was responding to "a definite change in the perception of paparazzi pictures around the world" over the past couple of weeks, due in large part to the hounding of the American singer Britney Spears. It listed the kinds of paparazzi shots which would henceforth be out of bounds, including pictures taken while "pursuing people in cars and on bikes", "celebrities with their kids", "people in distress at being photographed" and celebrities who are not "on duty".

Holy Moly knows better than most that some so-called celebrities collude with the paparazzi because they want to get their faces into magazines. For this reason, the website still considers several categories of paparazzi shot as "fair game", including "celebrities who attend premieres, launches, award ceremonies and press conferences", "idiots who go to places like The Ivy, Nobu et al for 'a quiet bite to eat'... likewise [nightclubs] Chinawhite, Mahiki," and "any blatant photo opportunity where tip-offs are given by the celebrity to the paparazzi".

The site admitted that its change in policy was linked to the decision by a veteran British paparazzo, Nick Stern, to quit his job with the Splash agency in Los Angeles because of his outrage at the manner in which a new, more ruthless breed of "paps" have treated the increasingly unstable Spears in recent weeks.

"We're going to do our best to stick to this because, let's face it, when one of the biggest names in paparazzi jacks it in due to ethics and morals and the world's biggest pop star gets her knickers photographed by 30 people an hour after being released from a mental institute, you know there's a problem on the shop floor," said Holy Moly.

Mr Holy Moly, the anonymous founder of the website, which is visited by about one million people a month in addition to 180,000 regular subscribers, said he had taken the decision after seeing "paparazzi crowding around Britney Spears as she was leaving the hospital". When Spears was recently taken to hospital for a mental health check, she was pursued by around 200 photographers and film crews.

www.holymoly.co.uk

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