Paper back to old formula

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The Independent Online
IT HAS been quite a week for The Sun - and it's not over yet. Going back to a tried-and-tested tabloid formula the newspaper has so far "stitched up" the comedian Lenny Henry, the cricketer Ian Botham, the royal bride Sophie Rhys-Jones and Chris Tarrant, the disc jockey and TV presenter.

With "More Amazing Pictures" of Sophie promised for today, as well as the "Truth" about her and Mr Tarrant's "Tender Night in Oz", the run is set to continue.

But with an official complaint already lodged by Buckingham Palace and Mr Tarrant initiating legal action, it is a tactic that will once again test the resolve of press watchdogs and lead to renewed calls for privacy legislation.

It also appears to be an odd move for a newspaper whose editor, David Yelland, recently signalled that he wanted to move The Sun away from bought- up stories and make it the most important political paper in Britain.

In an interview with The Times last month, Mr Yelland said: "The Sun will not succeed post-Diana if it is perceived to be nasty and vindictive. I have forged a new relationship with the Palace and pledged not to invade their privacy."

Mr Yelland said in a statement last night: "We clearly upset Miss Rhys- Jones. It's clear to me that we have caused her great distress. I have therefore decided to apologise to her and to the Palace." That is probably way too late. Yesterday the Palace confirmed that a formal complaint had been made to the Press Complaints Commission.

Lord Wakeham, chairman of the PCC, promised a full investigation. The only sanction the commission has against offenders is to demand that they print an apology - something The Sun has now done.

Lord Wakeham has resisted calls for the organisation to be given the power to fine newspapers, arguing that fines would have to be enormous to counteract the vast amounts tabloids make from intrusive stories.

Tony Blair has also resisted calls for a privacy law. However, some MPs say that if the tabloids do not improve their record a new law will become "inevitable".