The Society of Editors has revealed how it helped organise media coverage of Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan.
It was widely reported this morning that the Prince had returned to Afghanistan to fly attack helicopters in the fight against the Taliban, with broadcasters and newspaper websites breaking the news at around at 11am.
The SoE said coverage of Prince Harry’s deployment followed “weeks of careful planning” and was “yet another example of how the media behaves responsibly”.
“Earlier in the year it was quickly established that a second news blackout of the kind used when the prince was last in the war zone in 2007/2008 would not be appropriate,” it said.
“A new ‘understanding' was drawn up by the society and the MoD [Ministry of Defence] for the approval of all news outlets agreeing that there would be no detailed reporting or speculation about the deployment until the prince had actually arrived.
“Press Association team and broadcasting pool teams were dispatched at short notice after the final decision had been made and they provided breaking news stories, pictures and video with a simultaneous release time so that newspaper websites could reveal the story at the same time as 24-hour news channels.”
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the SoE, said: “News organisations kept to the understanding for operational and personal security considerations surrounding Prince Harry and those serving with him.
“They knew for some time that he was likely to be going to Afghanistan but the details were not reported even when the row broke about the Las Vegas naked prince pictures. It would have been so easy to say he was partying before flying out to war but the secret was kept until the time agreed.
“The public and the Leveson Inquiry should take note of yet another example of how the media behaves responsibly.”
News of the deployment comes a day after the PCC decided not to investigate The Sun's decision to publish naked photos of Prince Harry taken in a Las Vegas hotel suite, saying that to do so could be a further "intrusion" into his privacy.
The PCC received some 3,800 complaints from concerned members of the public but no formal complaint from the Prince himself over the pictures, which were widely published abroad and online. The Sun was the only UK national newspaper to print them.