Star editor suspended over Kate Middleton photographs
The editor of the Irish Daily Star, Michael O'Kane, has been suspended pending a joint investigation by the newspaper's shareholders into the publication of topless photographs of Kate Middleton.
In a statement this evening, the publishers of the newspaper - Independent Star Ltd - said Mr O'Kane had been suspended with immediate effect. It made no further comment.
Earlier, the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he was going to revisit the Privacy Bill in the wake of the publication of the photographs.
In a statement, Mr Shatter said balanced legislation was needed that did not inhibit proper investigative journalism, the reporting of news and the expression of opinion on matters of genuine public interest but that also prevents flagrant violation of an individual’s right to privacy.
“Despite the existence of our Press Council and reasonable principles which the print media are expected to follow, it is clear that some sections of the print media are either unable or unwilling in their reportage to distinguish between “prurient interest” and “the public interest,” he said.
"It is perceived financial gain as opposed to any principled freedom of expression that for some is the dominant value. The publication by the Irish Daily Star in Ireland of topless photographs of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is a clear illustration of this. It is clear that sections of the print media believe that public figures are fair game and have no right to privacy in respect of any aspect of their lives."
"It is my intention to revisit the provisions of the Privacy Bill 2006 which was reinstated to the Seanad Order paper following the formation of the Government, to consider what changes should be made to it in the context of developments that have taken place since its first publication and to then progress its enactment," he added.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) warned tonight against a knee-jerk reaction to the publication of the photographs.
Irish secretary Seamus Dooley said the threat of privacy legislation by the Minister for Justice was “a worrying development with serious implications.”
"Mr Shatter is again threatening to revisit a deeply flawed piece of legislation. The Privacy Bill was shelved some years ago after it had been comprehensively discredited. It would serve to undermine freedom of expression and protect those anxious to avoid media scrutiny. Mr Shatter should not punish the Irish media based on one episode involving members of the British Royal family,” he said.
The Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte today described as "totally disproportionate" a threat to close the Irish Daily Star newspaper by its UK-based joint owner.
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.
Mr Rabbitte said he found it very hard to get worked up about the issue. "I don't think it was especially good taste by the Irish Star, but I think there's a great dollop of hypocrisy on the part of the [UK] part-owner of the Irish Star," he said.