Opinion: The Sun has clearly boobed on this issue of free speech

I’m frankly disgusted that The Sun has decreed that I have a right to see Prince Harry’s penis, but not Kate Middleton’s nipples. I fail to understand how my being unable to see Prince Harry naked is somehow a disgusting breach of the freedom of speech of the UK press but my being unable to see Kate Middleton naked is completely correct because this is a hideous invasion of her privacy.

Let us briefly review. Prince Harry was happily naked in a hotel room where he had a reasonable expectation of privacy, someone took photos of him from a short distance away without his permission that he doesn’t want published and these are fine for me to see. Kate Middleton was happily naked on a balcony where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy, someone took photos of her from a long distance away without her permission that she doesn’t want published and this is an invasion of privacy. Both of the sets of photos, as confirmed by my Facebook newsfeed about four nanoseconds after each event, are freely available on the internet and everybody who wants to has seen them.

Currently the only difference between the two pictures is how far away someone had to stand to take the photos. Oh, and Harry is a man while Kate is a woman, but that’s it.

But it can’t be that Kate’s a woman, because The Sun has already shown it is completely happy to publish photos of celebrity nipples or “nipslips” as it calls them. It’s also quite happy to report on the complex social issue that is the rise and rise of the sideboob – where I’m sure the ladies featured are happy that pictures of their breasts are used to further such pressing social issues.

“Andreas”, I hear you cry, “What’s your point?” (I have good hearing). My point is that the Kate Middleton issue highlights our need for press regulation, The Sun‘s hypocrisy in its the decision over which particular pictures it should print, and our need to consider people’s privacy more in the ongoing debate about freedom of speech.

The British Press can go on and on about how this issue shows that self-regulation works, that they aren’t printing the Kate photos and aren’t they wonderful, etc. etc. but we all know the only reason The Sun isn’t printing these ones is that there would be a backlash because the public see Kate as more vulnerable. She is seen by many as a small and quiet woman rather than a brash and lovable soldier who is ‘just larking around’.

Well, I have news for you. There’s nothing different about these two sets of photos. They’re both taken without permission, available on the internet for every idiot to see and neither of the subjects wants us to see them naked. If The Sun claims freedom of speech over one and not the other then it just goes to show that there was no validity in their earlier claims that the Prince Harry photos were anything to do with freedom of the press and were everything to do about making more money by selling more issues of a gossip-rag.

But I’m sure that’s not the case.

* Andreas Christodoulou is the Treasurer of the Northampton Liberal Democrats, works as an auditor in Leicester, and writes here in a purely personal capacity

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  • Neil Monnery 16th Sep '12 - 2:13pm

    Everyone knows why they aren’t publishing them and you are right – it is all about they know there would be a public backlash to go after Kate. The Sun is a business and they decided they would post the Prince Harry pictures not because they wanted to show the photos in order to have a proper debate. They thought they would sell more newspapers, get lots of publicity and possibly steal a march on their competitors.

    With regards to Kate they know the public don’t want to see her being hounded in any way so printing those photos would be a bad decision financially.

    We knew they were lying a couple of weeks back over the Harry photos and now it has been proven. They’ll say that Harry wasn’t in a private setting but really that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

    Still it’s funny to see them cornered by their own words isn’t it?

  • The argument that the Harry shots illustrated a security issue is quite valid – naked bodyguards may be less effective – but the pictures themselves are completely irrelevant. And anywhere you can use a telephoto lens would be a perfect site for a telescopic rifle sight. Celebrity brand is the only distinction between the two cases.

  • Keith Browning 16th Sep '12 - 2:39pm

    I would suggest that both ‘naked Royals- shock horror’ stories have been deliberately ‘placed’ in the public consciousness in the UK to prevent the Brits from having to worry themselves too much about the more important issues that are presently engulfing the world. Finance and global imperialism have been booted from the front pages, thereby further disenfranchising the average citizen from taking part in the debate about things that really matter.

  • John Richardson 16th Sep '12 - 4:50pm

    I think taking and publishing pictures of people in private places without their consent (especially when naked!) is an unambiguous and serious breach of privacy. It’s pure exploitation for profit and should be banned.

  • Richard Dean 16th Sep '12 - 6:11pm

    What is so bad about being seen naked?

    There are other differences. Unmarried Harry seems to have been caught naked with a couple of hookers (?), while Married Kate was caught naked in the privacy of a family context. Unmarried Harry is making a new statement about who it is ok to be naked with when, while Married Kate is just doing what many British couples do in the sun. Unmarried Harry is telling us he spends taxpayers money on gambling and frolics, Married Kate is saying she is being frugal with the pounds.

    And now that we can all see what we’ve got, I’m sure many of us are prouder than ever to have such a beautiful future queen!

  • Richard Dean 16th Sep '12 - 6:35pm

    Looks like Kate is doing her job well, Rebecca. Working people’s emotions, grinding the flour, moulding the wheat. Harry too. Every hot man wants to be him, every cool man likes to hate him. What else is monarchy for these days? A fine purpose too, uniting the nation, what better purpose can it possibly serve?

  • Tony Dawson 16th Sep '12 - 8:10pm

    @Neil Monnery:

    ” They’ll say that Harry wasn’t in a private setting but really that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.”


    He chose to share his nakedness with a whole bunch of people, most of whose names he will likely not remember if he ever knew them. Intimacy in such circumstances is based upon trust, not privacy. Did he ask everybody there whether they were using a camcorder for what was obviously a ‘performance’.

    Kate Middleton’s breasts are, however, another matter. Though it was really foolish for anyone who does not want to be viewed/videoed naked to do so outside of a closed compound, it is a reasonable expectation to be able to prevent someone from profiting from your nakedness in a situation where you could not be seen from any public place by the naked eye. But light travels in straight lines both ways (O level physics). So they were really stupid.

    Let us face it, however, the hoo-hah about this incident is really nothing to do with privacy at all. Ms Middleton’s breasts are no big deal: in western society they would not be out of place or raise an eyebrow on any beach in Majorca. The hoo hah is because there has been an extended magnificent co-ordinated effort by the establishment to rehabilitate the Batteburgs using Will and Kate to wipe out or rather eclipse the last media manipulator who marriedinto the dynasty. It is no accident that this event coincides completely with a two week solid photo call attempting to re-inforce the portrayal of this couple as classic safe and dutiful very nice arch-conservative s. The problem for the royal spin doctors is not the magazines: those pictures are now on the internet forever (probably on some Mongolian web site eventually) and no amount of future window-dressing will ever undo the reality.

    There are also some serious red faces in the security industry. If a photographer could find them then so could Al Qaeda. I could probably have hit them at that distance with a bolt from my hunting crossbow so it would have been a piece of cake for any extremist with a high velocity sniping rifle.

  • Ruth Bright 16th Sep '12 - 8:37pm

    Yeah right Richard. Poor Ms Middleton. Why don’t we resurrect the eighteenth century custom of royal women giving birth in public so in due course we can see EVERYTHING we got for our money.

  • Rebecca – Louis XIV’s wife gave birth in public. In his eulogy when Princess Margaret died Jim Wallace pointed out that her birth in 1930 marked the last occasion when the Home Secretary attended (though hopefully, by that era, in an adjoining room!).

    It all sounds right up Richard Dean’s street doesn’t it?

  • What explanation has The Sun given for not publishing the naked Kate photos? If it’s on privacy grounds then I agree with the charge of hypocrisy.

    However – just because they’ve previously published naked photos of other celebrities and royals with a free speech justification, that doesn’t automatically mean their hands are now tied and must publish all photos of nude royals that become available. Free speech means the right to remain silent just as much as the right to speak out.

    Yes, their choice may well be to do with keeping on-side with the royals’ PR machine, or to keep on-side with their readership, or to avoid being sued, or maybe just a personality preference for Kate over Harry. So what? All of us are constantly making tactical decisions about when to speak and when to keep shtum.

  • Ruth Bright 17th Sep '12 - 5:08pm

    Sorry Rebecca – we seem to have wires crossed here I think we are actually on the same side!

  • Richard Dean 17th Sep '12 - 6:32pm

    I didn’t notice me suggesting anything anybody says I did!

    Why are Brits so embarrassed about ther bodies and their functions? 🙂

  • Ruth Bright 17th Sep '12 - 8:28pm

    Not remotely embarrassed about bodies and their functions. When I was a parliamentary candidate there was a picture of me breastfeeding published in a local National Childbirth Trust newsletter. It is simply a matter of what is or is not knowingly and voluntarily made public.

    If someone of Kate Middleton’s stratospheric fame one day breastfed in public it would be wonderful but I am sure most of the dirty old men who currently enjoy ogling peeping- tom pictures of her would be absolutely horrified!

  • Richard Dean 17th Sep '12 - 8:38pm

    One day men and women will hopefully learn to communicate in non-stereotypes! 🙂

  • “Simon Banks:

    “dismissing the privacy arguments means dismissing individual rights.”

    True intimacy is based upon trust,not ‘rights’.

    I have no problem at all with privacy. What I have a problem with is pretence of privacy when there is not any, really.

    Our royal family are media tarts. Arguably, that is their principal function and they do it reasonably well. That does not give people the right to take advantage in circumstances where there is a genuine privacy issue (Kate). Nor does it give them (Harry) a right to suppression of something which would be round the world on YouTube were the subject anyone else.

    It was SO funny seeing Kate greeting ‘topless’ Solomon Island women today. Made you realise what a trivial thing this fuss is really about – and I think this was not lost on Kate herself.

  • People, when you take public money to go on a private holiday and take Special Branch with you it is NEVER private. He was not protected, third parties were allowed to film the event, and all protocols were broken. Maybe Harry and Wills will learn when you take a title you lose certain benefits.

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