Move to close 'Irish Daily Star' disproportionate, says INM
A THREAT TO CLOSE the Irish Daily Star newspaper by its UK-based joint owner was described as “disproportionate” yesterday by the tabloid’s Dublin-based shareholder, Independent News & Media.
On Saturday, Richard Desmond, chairman of Northern & Shell (N&S), said he would take “immediate steps” to close down the joint venture following the decision of the Irish tabloid to publish photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless.
The Irish version of the Star is jointly owned by N&S and INM under an agreement that dates back to 1987. INM, where businessman Denis O’Brien now exercises considerable influence, said it was a “regrettable decision” by the Irish Daily Star to republish pages from the French magazine Closer.
INM said it warranted “immediate investigation” and that “steps are already under way in this regard”.
The Irish media company said, however, that the threat to close the Dundrum-based tabloid, which employs about 120 staff directly and indirectly, was “disproportionate to a poor editorial decision” made without reference to shareholders.
Mr Desmond said he was “very angry” at the Irish Daily Star’s decision to publish the photographs.
He said there was “no justification” for publishing the pictures. “Northern Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”
Gareth Morgan, editor of the Daily Star in the UK, said he was “horrified” by the publication.
The British edition of the Star did not publish the photographs, nor did other UK papers.
On Saturday, INM said it had “no prior knowledge of the decision to publish”.
Yet, on Friday evening, Irish Daily Star editor Michael O’Kane had told RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime show that he intended to publish the photographs the following day, subject to legal advice.
“I can’t think of any reason not to publish them,” Mr O’Kane told RTÉ.
Ger Colleran, managing director of Independent Star Ltd, which runs the tabloid, did not respond to calls and texts yesterday. Mr Colleran is a former editor of the paper.
Press ombudsman John Horgan told The Irish Times yesterday he had not received any complaint about the matter. “I can’t make a decision until I have a complaint,” he added.
Complaints can be lodged up to three months after publication.
The Press Council of Ireland’s code of practice states that “taking photographs of individuals in private places without their consent is not acceptable, unless justified by the public interest”.
The Irish Daily Star signed up to that code when the council was set up in January 2008.