Many might think Rupert Murdoch is in enough trouble with the British establishment, and even the British ‘non-establishment’ given his newspapers’ issues with phone hacking as evidenced by the long-running Leveson enquiry, but he has sought the refuge of the law in having his “Sun” run pictures of a naked Prince Harry.
Murdoch, the chief executive of News Corporation that owns the British tabloid has used the Harry hijinks in Vegas to call for an American-style freedom of the press law, something Lord Leveson will be contemplating as he completes his consideration on the regulation of the British press in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
Murdoch said on Twitter to give Prince Harry a break. “He may be on the public payroll one way or another, but the public loves him, even to enjoy Las Vegas.”
So far as the publication of the pictures was concerned, he said there was a need to demonstrate that there was no such things as free press in the UK and that the internet made of amockery of these issues.
The suggestions may sound rich coming from a newspaper proprietor who has presided over such widespread and malevolent privacy invasion as phone hacking, but he said he had not called for the publication of the pictures of Harry in the Sun, but it was an editorial decision made by the newspaper’s editor.
Jeremy Hunt, the UK Culture Secretary, said that The Sun had not acted in the public interest in publishing the photographs of the Prince and a naked woman during a game of “strip billiards” in Las Vegas. But he added that newspaper editors had to be free to make decisions on such issues.
“Personally I cannot see what the public interest was in publishing those,” said Mr Hunt, the first member of the Cabinet to speak about the controversy. “But we have a free press and I don’t think it is right for politicians to tell newspaper editors what they can and cannot publish.”