Editors defy Becks over privacy ban on pants pics

Sun, Daily Star, Heat and Closer: publications which defied FA’s warning

The Sun and Daily Star newspapers as well as Heat and Closer magazines face being reported to the Press Complaints Commission after publishing long lens pictures of David Beckham in his underpants.

The FA says it warned all the publications that the pictures went against section three of the Editors’ Code which forbids photographing people in private places without their consent.

The editors of the Sun and Daily Star are bullish in the face of the FA criticism.

But the agency which sold the photographs, Big Pictures, has apologised to the FA, deleted the photographs from its files and paid £3,000 to a charity named by the England captain.

This week Big Pictures would only confirm that the photos were no longer for sale.

The FA is likely to argue to the PCC that the England captain had an expectation of privacy because he was on the 4th floor of his hotel, 300 yards away from any public areas.

The Sun and Star published the photos last Thursday and were followed by Heat and Closer this week.

FA director of communications Colin Gibson said he would pursue all four publications through the PCC “unless we can come to a satisfactory conclusion”.

He said: “We are disappointed that these magazines used the photographs despite being warned that they would face action under the PCC.

The pictures were also taken illegally under Portuguese privacy law and they were informed of this. They chose to continue publishing and they will have to face the consequences.

“We are delighted that Big Pictures have agreed to pay a sum to a charity of David Beckham’s choice.”

The FA had threatened to withdraw press opportunities for any publication using the photographs.

But Star editor Dawn Neesom said: “We don’t give into bullies . There is nothing legally wrong with the pictures.

They are good fun. I’m glad that we’ve shown some unity with the Sun.”

Sun editor Rebekah Wade said: “David Beckham earns millions of pounds posing for publicity photographs wearing just his underpants – often a lot less – so I am surprised that any newspaper was intimidated by the rather feeble threat.

“Clearly, The Sun has even bigger balls than the England captain.”

Lawyers for the FA were said to have contacted sports journalists in Lisbon complaining of invasion of Beckham’s privacy. The PCC has not heard from the FA.

A Sun spokesman said: “David is the biggest exhibitionist in Britain, and he has made a fortune getting his kit off for advertisements, flashing his tattoos and posing for simulated sex pictures with Posh. He loves to show off his body. If the England captain chooses to parade nearly naked on his hotel balcony on the eve of a major tournament, it is likely to attract attention.”

By Dominic Ponsford and Jean Morgan

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