Dislike is no reason to show fake sheikh pic

The British press was united in its response to the Danish Muhammad cartoons and didn’t publish, winning plaudits for being "responsible".

What a shame it couldn’t bring itself to show the same sort of unity when confronted by Respect MP George Galloway and Roy Greenslade brandishing their blurry pictures of Mazher Mahmood.

The decision by The Guardian to publish the "fake sheikh" picture made the paper look too easily used by publicity-seeking Galloway and Greenslade.

It is twisted logic to compare the News of the World’s court fight to stop the pictures with the challenges made by national newspapers to lifetime anonymity orders covering child killer Mary Bell, the murderers of Jamie Bulger and Ian Huntley’s girlfriend, Maxine Carr.

It was the unprecedented and comprehensive nature of the orders in those cases of great public interest that the press sought to test in court.

Some journalists may dislike Mahmood’s methods, or even enjoy seeing the stinger stung, but that is not a public interest justification for publishing his picture.

It only needs one criminal with a grudge to put Mahmood’s safety in danger. The NoW was right to do all it could to try and protect its reporter from exposure and possible harm.

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