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Prince Harry naked photos prompted palace call to PCC

Published: August 23, 2012 | 5:09 am
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St James’s Palace has confirmed it contacted the Press Complaints Commission over the possible use of naked pictures of Prince Harry.

The palace had heard a number of UK newspapers were considering publishing the photos, a spokesman said.

It believed publication of the photos – taken in a Las Vegas hotel room – would constitute an invasion of privacy.

One ex-editor says the decision not to use the photos shows the Leveson Inquiry has “neutered” UK newspapers.

The pictures of Prince Harry, 27, and a young woman naked in a Las Vegas hotel room appeared on US gossip website TMZ.

St James’s Palace has confirmed the prince is in the photos and that it contacted the PCC on Wednesday because it had concerns about his privacy being intruded upon, in breach of the editors’ code of practice.

The photos are believed to have been taken on a camera phone last Friday when the prince was on a private weekend break with friends.

‘No harm done’

TMZ reported that Harry had been pictured in a group playing “strip billiards”.

The pictures have been picked up by much of the US media but no British newspapers have published them, although they have appeared on a political blog in the UK.

Former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis told the BBC that before the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and practices he would have published the pictures, but that the inquiry had “neutered” the press.

Mr Wallis told BBC Two’s Newsnight: “The situation is fun, it’s a good, classic newspaper situation.

“The problem is in this post-Leveson era where newspapers are simply terrified of their own shadow, they daren’t do things that most of the country, if they saw it in the newspaper, would think ‘that’s a bit of a laugh’.

“There would be no harm done and they would not think any worse of either the paper or of Prince Harry.”

Mr Wallis said it would have been in the public interest to publish the pictures.

“He is third in line to the throne, he’s been on the world stage for weeks and weeks, he is supposedly surrounded by police security officers,” he said.

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who also appeared on Newsnight, said the photos represented a “fantastic” story.

“Literally any journalist worth his salt, whether at one end of the market or the other, would have said: ‘Thank-you God’.

“It doesn’t affect Prince Harry at all. He is single and he is cavorting with ladies who wish to be cavorted with,” Mr MacKenzie said.

“So where are the issues? There are no issues except one – Leveson.”

‘Fast and loose’

The Leveson Inquiry was launched last year in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal centred on the News of the World.

Broadcaster Vanessa Feltz, an alleged victim of phone hacking, told Newsnight: “If there is some kind of moral awakening then it’s about damn time because there are too many people whose lives have been played fast and loose with for nothing more than a bit of titillation over your Frosties.”

She added: “What [Prince Harry] does in a private hotel room is what we expect him to be doing.

“He’s a young fellow, he’s not married, he’s not on state business, he’s not representing the Queen, and any editor who says it’s of no interest to anyone is quite right.”

BBC

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