Observer ignores NoW over Mahmood picture

NoW: prompted Palace review


News of the World editor Rebekah Wade is to discuss with Observer editor Roger Alton "the serious issue" of his paper publishing a photograph of the NoW investigations editor Mazher Mahmood in its coverage of the Sophie Wessex tapes.

The Observer was the only newspaper that chose to use the picture after NoW managing editor Stuart Kuttner wrote to fellow national newspaper managing editors asking them not to. NoW staff are particularly angry and will not hesitate to hold The Observer responsible if any harm befalls Mahmood.

Kuttner’s letter stressed Mahmood regularly investigated arsonists, drug-peddlers, gun dealers and even contract killers, with the result that many had been exposed in the newspaper and more than 100 sent to prison.

"We pointed out that he has many potential enemies who would go to extreme lengths to harm him," Kuttner told Press Gazette.

In the past Mahmood has had death threats made against him.

Reports of a complaint from the NoW to the Press Complaints Commission about The Observer are untrue. The PCC, in any case, is unlikely to be able to adjudicate on such a complaint, since it does not deal with disputes between newspapers.

The Observer said it was not the first time a photograph of Mahmood has appeared in the national press and that he was "very much part of the story".

The NoW’s publication of transcripts of the Sophie tapes last week unleashed a torrent of newspaper, television and radio reports on the contents of the Countess’s conversations with Mahmood, in disguise as a sheik’s assistant – and the wider implications for R-JH, her PR company, and for the Royal family, embroiled yet again in a debate about its role.

The stories have prompted the Palace to set about devising new guidelines for royals who also work.

The sideline row between the Palace and the PCC over who brokered the deal for an interview with Sophie Wessex with the NoW, has been settled with the apparent acceptance that the PCC offered no more than its normal advice in the circumstances to Queen’s communications secretary, Simon Walker.

The PCC is now dealing only with the Queen’s private secretary Sir Robin Janvrin.

by Jean Morgan

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