Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, yesterday denied that The Sun newspaper had a public interest justification for publishing photos of Prince Harry naked.
The tabloid claimed to be acting to protect a free press when it defied St James's Palace to publish photographs of Prince Harry in Las Vegas in its Friday edition.
"I cannot see what the public interest was in publishing those," Mr Hunt told the BBC yesterday. "But we have a free press and I don't think it is right for politicians to tell newspaper editors what they can and cannot publish. That must be a matter for the newspaper editors."
Yesterday The Independent on Sunday reported that it was Rupert Murdoch, the owner of News International, who was behind The Sun's publication of the images.
According to a well-placed source, Mr Murdoch phoned Tom Mockridge, the News International chief executive, on Thursday. "I know this is about Leveson but this is humiliating. We can't carry on like this. We should run them, do it and say to Leveson we are doing it for press freedom," Mr Murdoch reportedly told Mr Mockridge.
News International has refused to comment on the extent of Mr Murdoch's intervention. But yesterday he tweeted: "Prince Harry. Give him a break. He may be on the public payroll one way or another, but the public loves him, even to enjoy Las Vegas."