David Dinsmore, managing editor of the Sun, today claimed that it would have been “perverse” not to have printed the naked pictures of Prince Harry, taken by camera phone while he was on holiday in Las Vegas. The argument is that the pictures are available on the internet and across the world, and it was therefore in the public interest that they be printed in the tabloid.
Leaving aside the needlessness of printing a picture which is indeed widely available online, its appearance in the paper is a huge two-fingered salute to the Leveson inquiry, and everything it stands for and was established to do. There is no public interest which could possibly be served by publishing near-naked pictures of anyone, no matter their rank, position, or who their granny is. However, for the pictures to feature a member of the Royal family is a front-page advertisement of the Murdoch empire’s belief that they are above the law – that they can print what they like in the pursuit of greater profits.
I am no monarchist, and I couldn’t give two tiny hoots what a single guy in his late 20s does on holiday – he does at least work to earn his own money as well as living off the country – but no-one should have to see their own body in the media unless they willingly agree to it.
Freedom of the press is a good thing. Free speech is vital to a healthy democratic society – but this is not free speech, this is voyeurism.
What is perverse in this situation? I don’t think it’s Harry, and I don’t think it’s a decision not to print.