PCC gets 150 complaints as Sun prints Prince Harry pics
But watchdog says there have been no complaints from Palace after tabloid publishes nude photos
THE UK media watchdog says it has received 150 complaints, mostly from members of the public, after The Sun broke ranks with the rest of the press this morning to publish pictures of Prince Harry partying naked in Las Vegas.
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) said this afternoon that it had not, however, had any complaints from the royals themselves, or from their representatives, reports The Guardian.
In an editorial alongside the pictures, the Sun said it was publishing because its readers had a "right" to see photos which are already in the public domain, thanks to the internet. It said the 33 per cent of UK households not online were barred from taking part in a "legitimate public debate" about the prince.
The paper argued that Harry had "compromised his own privacy". These were not intimate snaps of Harry with a girlfriend: according to reports, there were 25 people in the room with the naked Prince.
St James's Palace issued a statement in response to the Sun’s decision. "We have made our views on Prince Harry's privacy known,” it said. “Newspapers regulate themselves, so the publication of the photographs is ultimately a decision for editors to make."
Media lawyer Mark Stephens, quoted by the BBC, believes the Sun has broken the law. "There is no public interest [in publishing the pictures] yesterday and there's no public interest today and there'll be no different public interest tomorrow.
"So it was illegal yesterday to publish these pictures, it's illegal today to publish them and it's illegal tomorrow to publish them. And I think this is just a publicity stunt from the Sun."
Elisabeth Murdoch, fresh from delivering the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV festival, said she supported the Sun's decision, saying: "It would be very sad if we lived in a world where you can’t publish that."
She told The Daily Telegraph: "I went online and checked out the pictures… I think he's cute, and I thought quite sweet."
Writing for The Week online, "ardent monarchist" Crispin Black said the royal family had made a mountain out of a molehill by trying to stop publication of the pictures, prolonging a story which would otherwise have "blown over fairly quickly".
Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford leant his support to the Murdoch empire's decision, saying UK press freedom would have been diminished "if everyone had dutifully abided by the wishes of Clarence House".
He added: "I don't completely buy the Sun's argument that the 20 per cent of Britons without internet access have as much right to see pictures of Prince Harry's bum as those who are online.
"But I think they had a duty to make that argument and to publish the pictures in the UK."
Journalism professor Tim Luckhurst, speaking to The Independent, agreed there was a public interest argument. "These were not paparazzi pictures,” he said. “Did Harry have a legitimate expectation of privacy given that he invited these girls to his suite and allowed pictures to be taken?"