Tabloid criticised over photographs

Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 01:00

The joint publishers of the Irish Daily Star have both denied that they had sanctioned publication of topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge, leaving confusion over who gave the go-ahead for the pictures to appear.

The tabloid, whose future has now been left in question, is jointly owned by Northern and Shell and Independent News and Media who both issued statements denying prior knowledge of publication and expressing regret.

It published a two-page spread of 10 photographs of the duchess from Closer magazine under the headline "Angry Kate to sue mag over snaps".

The Irish Daily Star editor Michael O’Kane was unavailable for comment after earlier appearing on television to defend publication, saying the Duchess was no different from Rihanna or Lady Gaga, and acknowledging he wanted to sell more newspapers.

Media tycoon Richard Desmond, chairman of Northern and Shell, said he was taking immediate steps to end the partnership.

“I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture,” said Mr Desmond.

“The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern and Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”

A spokesman for Independent News and Media said: “The decision by the Irish Daily Star to republish pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge from the French magazine Closer was regrettable and in poor taste.

“Independent News and Media had no prior knowledge of the decision to publish.”

Northern and Shell added it had no editorial control over the newspaper and was consulting its lawyers “as a matter of urgency over what we believe to be a serious breach of their contract”.

Mimi Turner, Northern and Shell’s communications director, said: “We abhor the decision of the Irish Daily Star to publish these intrusive pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which we, like St James’s Palace, believe to be a grotesque invasion of their privacy.”

She added: “Northern and Shell is profoundly dismayed at the decision made by Irish Daily Star, which would never have been made by any of the newspapers or magazines under our editorial control.

“We consider all aspects of privacy very carefully, and would never condone this action.

“When the recent pictures of Prince Harry were made available to UK newspapers, even though that was a very different and more public situation, we felt that there was no public interest in publishing those images.

“This is of course a far more distressing situation and while it has nothing to do with the Daily Star UK or any of Northern and

Shell’s own newspapers, we very much regret the distress it has caused.” The photographs, taken of the couple on holiday at Chateau d’Autet, near Aix-en-Provence, were originally published in France’s Closer magazine — which is run by a different company from the British version.

Italian gossip magazine Chi has promised to publish a 26-page special edition next week featuring pictures of the royal couple. St James’s Palace has condemned the decision to publish the images as motivated by greed and said the couple would sue Closer’s publishers.

Both Chi and French Closer are published by the Mondadori media group, which is owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Irish Daily Star images were to be published in the Irish Republic and were not to be printed in any title associated with the paper in Northern Ireland or Britain.

The Press Council of Ireland was unavailable for comment on the decision to publish the photographs, but its 10-point code of practice includes a section on privacy.

The guidelines state “privacy is a human right, protected as a personal right in the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into Irish law. The private and family life, home and correspondence of everyone must be respected”.

The principle on privacy goes on to say that the right to privacy “should not prevent publication of matters of public record or in the public interest”.

It adds: “Taking photographs of individuals in private places without their consent is not acceptable, unless justified by the public interest.”

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