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The hunt for Gloria De Piero's topless photo shoot: A cruel pursuit that reeks of double standards

The most innocent party here is the young De Piero

There’s nothing like a bit of public exposure for a politician, is there? Well – not in the case of Gloria De Piero. A news agency is hunting down old photos of the newly appointed shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities, and newspapers of a  certain hue will have already checked their archives. What they are after is a  topless photoshoot that de Piero did as a teenager. What better way to reinvigorate the House of Commons?

The story that someone is trying to construct is that de Piero, a former daytime TV presenter and a woman, is asking for trouble because of her  good looks, and dumb enough to have had the photographs taken in the first place. Find the photographs and you prove the point.

But it’s not only women who are dumb enough to take their clothes off in front of a camera. Summon to mind, if you can stomach it, the pictures that New York mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner posted to Twitter. Chris Bryant MP endured the publication of that shot of him in his underpants from his Gaydar profile 10 years ago. And a naïve Prince Harry, starkers at a party in Las Vegas, was snapped on a mobile phone. What a bummer.

De Piero’s real problem is that her flesh wasn’t just being exposed for the sake of vanity. It was also for cash, and if you are prepared to use your body shamelessly for its commercial value at a young age, what would you do next? She may have thought she had proved that it is perfectly possible to put your clothes back on, become a BBC researcher, TV presenter and a Labour MP, and not be for ever beholden to your teenage self. But there are still people trying to foist shame on her for that early transaction.

Putting aside the question of whether she was 15 or 16, and consider it another way: if an agency, legally or illegally, manages to buy those photos, they too would enter into the financial food chain created by her naked torso. So too would the newspaper that ran them and anyone snuck a peek at them. The most innocent party in it is the young De Piero, from a modest background, who says now that she used the payment to buy cool clothes to fit in with her friends.

And should they surface, de Piero should note that even the Prime Minister David Cameron hardly has a cupboard free of skeletons. He’s done his damnedest to play down rumours of smoking  weed behind the bike-sheds at Eton, but his real albatross is another photoshoot, not naked but in topcoat and tails, exposing himself as part of the Bullingdon gang at Oxford.

History, unlike clothing, isn’t easily discarded, nor are the regrets you only come realise later. But if anyone is to be shamed, it is those for whom the image of a half naked girl still holds such fascination.