The Sun has become the first British newspaper to publish photos of Prince Harry's naked frolicks during a Las Vegas break. Managing Editor David Dinsmore, appearing on BBC Radio Five Live, stated the tabloid's
decision was a 'crucial' test of press freedom. When asked if his paper had prepared a longer print run for the feature he claimed not to know.
Photographs of a pissed-up 27 year-old cavorting in a private hotel room are about as newsworthy as an oil leak in a multi-storey car park. But people do seem to become mysteriously excitable when confronted with
evidence that the Royal Family occasionally behave like their 'subjects' might do. As former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie observed: "If Prince Harry with no clothes on in a Las Vegas hotel room surrounded by one naked woman and a load of other people he has just met in a drinking stripping game is not a story, then it is hard to know what is". (Although, MacKenzie's idea of newsworthy stories stretched to fabricating monstrous lies about the 96 Liverpool FC fans who died as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster).
Anyone with an internet connection can have gorged themselves on these images long before they appeared on the newsstands. But for The Sun to cloak the story behind the banner of press freedom is clearly bollocks. Tabloids know what their readership will buy. As for Dinsmore's riposte to Leveson or anyone else who would dare question a tabloid's right to place the hard selling of newspapers above all other considerations: “The teeth of the British press have been pulled by the establishment dentist. It’s important that every so often you bite the dentist’s hand”.
It's worth remembering why the British press had to be dragged kicking and screaming to that dentist's chair in the first place. Amongst the depressing catalogue of abuses, one particular nadir was the hacking of murder victim Millie Dowler’s voicemail. Those responsible for activities as reprehensible as that deserved the Marathon Man treatment with rusty pliers every day for the rest of their miserable lives.