Topless Kate photos risk reigniting privacy row

 

The publication of topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge would rekindle a row over royal privacy and the responsibilities of the media.

Pictures of Prince Harry frolicking naked in a Las Vegas hotel last month went viral on the internet after they were published by US gossip website TMZ.

The publication prompted a media frenzy and ignited a heated ethical debate over whether newspapers in this country should use them.

St James's Palace asked the UK's newspapers, through the press watchdog, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), to respect Harry's privacy and not publish the photos.

After initially complying with the request, on August 24 The Sun decided to print the pictures, under the headline "Heir it is!".

The Sun's managing editor, David Dinsmore, said the paper had "thought long and hard" about whether to use the pictures, and said it was an issue for press freedom rather than because it was moralising on the Prince's actions.

The newspaper said the photos represented "a crucial test of Britain's free press", and argued it was "vital" that it ran them.

Underpinning its argument was the fact that the photos were readily accessible online to millions of people around the world, but that The Sun's readers could not see them in the paper.

The Sun's editorial that day said: "It is absurd that in the internet age newspapers like The Sun could be stopped from publishing stories and pictures already seen by millions on the free-for-all that is the web."

Other newspapers held firm with their decision not to publish, partly due to fears of repercussions from Lord Justice Leveson, who is heading an inquiry into press practices.

The PCC has received more than 3,600 complaints about the photos of Harry appearing in The Sun, but it has so far said it would be "inappropriate" to open an investigation as it has not received a complaint from royal representatives.

St James's Palace said at the time it was still considering its response.

If topless pictures of the Duchess are indeed published, the incendiary question of privacy for the Royal Family will once again be ignited.

PA

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