Editors and Palace to frame policy on Wills' girlfriends

Wade agreed to drop pictures of William’s girlfriend from the NoW

Newspaper and magazine editors, in conjunction with St James’s Palace, are about to sit down and decide what their policy should be on the coverage of Prince William and his girlfriends.

It was intense lobbying from Prince Charles’s private secretaries, Stephen Lamport and Mark Bolland, with phone calls from Canada where the Prince is on tour, that averted the News of the World publishing pictures last weekend of William in the company of a German girl in Mauritius.

The NoW would have been within the parameters of the Editors’ Code of Practice to publish the pictures, taken by a holidaymaker on a public beach. But editor Rebekah Wade was persuaded to stick to the spirit of the code after the high-level discussions, reflecting Prince Charles’s concern that pictures of his son’s gap-year travels should not find a home on the front pages of tabloids.

Official pictures of William in Chile were provided to ward off just such a contingency, the NoW was informed.

Soundings from editors on the Code Committee and elsewhere provided a consensus which helped Wade decide not to publish.

One NoW insider said: "They were unhappy at the Palace because they felt that what the industry hasn’t done yet is make a ruling on William’s girls.

"What the plan is now is for us to sit down as an industry to decide what the rules are. All the other editors felt that until we’ve got some kind of ruling we have all agreed on, it would be better not to publish them."

The pictures, taken by City trader James Currie, arrived at the NoW via PR Max Clifford after first being offered by Currie to OK! Currie was said to have backed out of a deal when it was proposed the pictures would be run in OK!’s sister title, the Daily Express, with a storyline suggesting William was frolicking on a beach with a girl thousands of miles away on his grandmother’s birthday. The Express said it turned the deal down to avoid invading William’s privacy.

Clifford and Currie were renegotiating their deal with Wade this week for a lesser sum after the NoW ran a story inside on William’s bodyguard being absent while he was on a boat trip with his companion.

Clifford said: "I have got TV, magazines and newspapers queuing up all over the world to buy those pictures."

Fast becoming Fleet Street’s "scoops-master" – he claims he has had 40 front pages this year – Clifford had already sold the story of the couple who lost their £3m Lottery ticket to The Mirror and Sunday Mirror for a rumoured £80,000.

It was the first of the joint deals since Tina Weaver became editor of the Sunday and the two nationals began working in tandem.

Deprived of its front-page lead and aware of the Sunday Mirror scoop, the NoW went on the attack with a spoiler on the Lottery couple.

Through sources at Camelot and a friend of the couple, the NoW got together a splash and spread complete with wedding photograph of Martyn and Kay Tott. The NoW put its report out to PA at 7pm on Saturday and on its website ahead of the Sunday Mirror’s first edition. Wade said: "Isn’t it just good old-fashioned journalism getting a spoiler? I know it was a bit mean but Piers would have done it to me in a flash."

by Jean Morgan

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