The Sun continues to stoop as it publishes Prince Harry pics

The Sun has this morning printed the naked pictures of Prince Harry taken earlier this week in Las Vegas in defiance of a request from Palace lawyers to respect the prince’s privacy.

It has splashed the image on its front page this morning and again across pages four and five.

On the front pages the headline reads “Heir it is! Pic of naked Harry you’ve already seen on the internet”.

Yes, we’ve all seen a great deal on the “internet”, but it doesn’t mean you have to reprint it in a national newspaper — although the Sun has a lead on most papers in this department six days a week.

Still the reason it is publishing is not only because it saw the pics on the “internet”, but because of some long winded tosh about a public interest defence. Laughable, the Sun has done itself no favours here.

Yes I know the Royal family is benefiting from an intervention from the Press Complaints Commission following the publication of the pics by, but I’m not really sure that’s the point.

Sure the PCC is trying to act tough in this post Leveson environment and tell papers not to publish, although it has not exactly acted evenly in other recent privacy cases, but the press itself needs to take some responsibility and accept that it can show restraint and let this one go.

Most, as the Sun admits, have seen these images online, or even in the Irish press where they have been published. Whatever you do, don’t try to dress it up as something that it’s not.

As Nick Armstrong, a partner and media lawyer at City law firm Charles Russell, puts it “the fact that photos are available on the internet can’t in itself be a reason to publish them in a newspaper”. There needs, he says, to be some other reason justifying publication. “With the Harry pictures, it is difficult to see what that is.”

In its Sun says editorial the paper writes that “its vital you see them” and that talks about how its readers have been denied seeing these pictures of Harry. Oh yes, quite vital even though I have apparently already seen the pics on the “internet”. So let me get this right…it’s vital I see them again? Or vital that the Sun prints the pics and sells more copies? The latter does sound more accurate.

It says it is not publishing the pics to make  “any moral judgement about Harry’s nude frolics with girls in a Las Vegas hotel”, but rather because the Royal Family’s lawyers are trying to “muzzle the world’s most vibrant newspapers, here in Britain” with a public interest defence.

It argues that “there is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed. The photos have potential implications for the Prince’s image representing Britain around the world”.

Hearing this come out of the Sun, which is effectively a journalistic school for hackers, amnesiacs, liars and criminals is all utterly laughable.

If it was going to publish these pictures it should have done it yesterday and not with any public interest line.

Armstrong agrees on the public interest line. He says that The Sun’s arguments “about public interest and Harry having forfeited his privacy rights are not convincing”.

“Other newspapers show that there can be a debate about the quality of royal security, for example, without the need to publish the photographs.”

“It regrettably seems more like an opportunistic commercial exercise presented as being in the public interest, which may do more harm than good to the important cause of press freedom,” Armstrong adds.

  • Tom Hume

    It is nice to see he’s having a bit of fun, however.