Princess revives privacy row

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The Independent Online
NEWSPAPERS came under renewed attack yesterday with calls for new privacy laws in the wake of the decision by the Princess of Wales to retreat from public life. They responded with accusations that she has manipulated them.

Speculation has grown, too, that the Prince of Wales and his followers might have been partly responsible for the Princess's announcement. .

Sir Nicholas Bonsor MP, acting chairman of the Tory backbench constitutional affairs committee, called for

legislation to protect privacy. 'I think the way people in public life are hounded to the every last dot and comma of their private affairs is not justifiable,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.'

The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev John Taylor, added: 'The way in which the media have just eaten her up and the way in which they have treated her . . . I think has been far too much for a person to take and I can well understand her saying enough is enough.'

Whitehall sources said media treatment of the Princess would be taken into consideration in discussions of the white paper on the media expected in February.

Stuart Kuttner, managing editor of the News of the World, said: 'The Princess of Wales has been done down by the palace mafia, by the Establishment. She has not been done down by the media.'

The relationship between the Princess and the press was 'a two-way street' in which she had also used the media. He said she was quite 'worldly' and could have cut down her public engagements without Friday's 'enormously dramatic' statement.

In reponse to the Princess's decision to step down, the two top-selling tabloid newspapers, the Sun and the Daily Mirror, promised yesterday to respect her privacy in future.

The Sunday Mirror - the first newspaper to publish the pictures of the princess exercising at a private gym - blames Buckingham Palace, not the press, for her decision. The leading article in today's paper says: 'The real issue is not the media coverage of Diana. It is how the rest of the royals are now viewed after so cynically trying to push her out of the public eye.'

Meanwhile the Princess continues to make front-page news around the world.

The New York Post declared yesterday: 'Teary Di goes into exile'. Its report said: 'As she spoke, her legs seemed to buckle a bit and it was feared she might collapse.'

The Gazette van Antwerpen in Belgium carried a huge front-page picture of Friday's royal function and said there had been 'arm wrestling' between the royal couple.

The Prince of Wales has emerged the winner in a 'struggle for power', according to Italy's Corriere della Sera.

Most people think the Princess was right to withdraw from public life, according to a poll published today in the News of the World.

Inside Story, page 17

Leading article, page 20

(Photograph omitted)