Insight and analysis from Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford

The public interest argument is thin - but it is good news for press freedom that The Sun published Prince Harry pictures

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.

I can't help feeling that if everyone had dutifully abided by the wishes of Clarence House UK press freedom would have been diminished.

The Sun carries the flame of a long tradition of irreverent British tabloid journalism which has traditionally thumbed its nose at the establishment to tell the man in the street what they really want to know.

The Daily Mail yesterday described the "ban" on publishing the photos as "ludicrous" and characterised it as censorship. But there was no ban in place, Clarence House had merely informed newspapers that Prince Harry had a reasonable expectation of privacy in a his private hotel suite and that publishing them would be a breach of UK law.

That's for them to argue, but at the end of the day it is up to editors to decide what they publish and to then argue the public interest for a breach of privacy.

The fact that the photos were on the internet does not swing the argument for me. There's plenty of stuff available at the click of a button to anyone with an internet connection that you wouldn't dream of putting in a newspaper.

The security breach angle is pretty thin as well. As one police source said, that girl he was cavorting with clearly didn't have any hidden weapons.

But whether the pictures can now be considered private after being viewed so widely is debateable.  And at the end of the day Harry only has himself to blame for putting himself in a position where they could be taken.

Most media folk, and legal types for that matter, no doubt take the view that what consenting adults get up to in private hotel rooms is nobody's business. But I suspect there are many loyal subjects out there who think that the third in line to the throne should take care to present a more dignified image of the Royal Family to the world.

As a Chicago Times editorial once said: "It is a newspaper's duty to print the news and raise hell."

A tabloid editor is failing in his or her duty of they don't take risks and push the envelope.


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