Photographers' group defends pictures taken of Vicky Pryce in open prison as 'valid news story'

A group representing photojournalists has defended pictures of Vicky Pryce taken in an open prison near the start of her eight-month sentence for taking the speeding points of her husband Chris Huhne.

The Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph were among those to publish photos of Pryce at an open jail described by the Prison Service as a "pleasant mansion house overlooking the Weald of Kent”.

Last week Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade asked whether it was the job of the press to "humiliate people who are already suffering from humiliation?" and noted that the Press Complaints Commission had received a complaint from one of Pryce's daughters.

Greenslade also published an anonymous letter, "from a veteran Fleet Street photographer",  suggesting photographers may have broken the law in getting the pictures.

Now Chris Eades, of the British Press Photographers Association, has hit back and defended the right of journalists to take the photographs of Pryce.

He said in an open letter to Greenslade that “no laws were broken” and “the PCC code was adhered to”, and said that a former minister’s wife being transferred to open prison, was a “valid news story”.

The letter, seen by Press Gazette, said: “You question the legitimacy of photographing convicted criminals in prison – but there is a long tradition of doing so. Myra Hindley, Jeffrey Archer, Sarah Tisdall, George Best, Rose West, Ernest Saunders, Maxine Carr, even Dr Crippen have all been photographed in prison.

“If you think this is wrong then campaign to change the law, or the PCC code – but please don't vilify your beleaguered photographic colleagues for legitimate newsgathering.”

Eades, who was among the group of photographers sent by newspapers to try and photograph Pryce in jail, said all pictures were taken from a churchyard nearby rather than on prison grounds.

He also said that prison guards knew about the arrangement, as did the vicar, and claimed that no one had told them to leave.

Pryce’s daughters did complain to the PCC, Eades said, and no photographs were taken after an advisory was issued by the body.

In a blog on Friday evening Greenslade reaffirmed that the source for his letter "does exist" and said he stands by what he wrote.

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