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New privacy laws for Ireland as Irish Daily Star suffers closure threat after 'indecent' decision to print topless Kate photos

Original Source: M: MONDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 2012
By Martin Robinson and Mark Duell PUBLISHED:11:55, 17 September 2012| UPDATED: 18:19, 17 September 2012

* Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter is reviving abandoned privacy legislation

 * Richard Desmond taking 'immediate steps' to shut down Irish Daily Star 

 * Media mogul is furious as he was not consulted before it used 13 pictures

 * Row as co-owner Independent News & Media wants it to stay open  

Angry: Richard Desmond is taking immediate steps to shut the Irish Daily Star after it printed topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge

Ireland is set to introduce new privacy laws after the Kate Middleton topless photos scandal. 


Alan Shatter, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, has taken the dramatic decision to revive abandoned legislation amid the continued fallout from the holiday images of the Royals. 


His comments that some of the country's print media place no value on a right to privacy come amid reports the Irish Daily Star could be shut down after its decision to publish the photos. 


‘It is clear that some sections of the print media are either unable or unwilling in their reportage to distinguish between prurient interest and the public interest,’ Mr Shatter said. 


The Government will reopen privacy legislation first proposed several years ago. Mr Shatter said some print media place ‘perceived financial gain’ ahead of ‘any principled freedom of expression’. 


More than 100 jobs would go in Dublin if the Irish Daily Star shut. Its co-owner Richard Desmond reacted furiously to the decision to print the photos that have caused anger in Britain. 


Mr Desmond, whose Northern & Shell group also owns the Daily Express and Daily Star in the UK, has said he will take 'immediate steps' to close the paper because it splashed 13 pictures of the nude Royal across its pages.


The decision to print was made by the Irish Daily Star's editor Michael O’Kane, who did not inform Mr Desmond that they would use the images taken with a long lens in Provence earlier this month. 

'I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture,' Mr Desmond said.

Controversial: The front page of the Irish Daily Star on Saturday printed the pictures, which has put the future of the paper in jeopardy

New laws: Alan Shatter, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, has taken the dramatic decision to revive abandoned legislation amid the continued fallout from the holiday images of the Royals

'The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern & Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms.'


Even if the paper survives, as its other owner Independent News & Media (INM) would like, Mr O'Kane's position looks very precarious after the Palace said his decision was 'motivated by greed'.


If the paper is saved from the chopping block it will probably lose the right to use the Daily Star name.

'On behalf of INM, I wish to offer my deepest apologies,' INM chief executive Joe Webb said. 'We are launching an internal inquiry to ensure there will never be a repeat of this breach of decency.'


The Irish Daily Star's newsroom is said to be gripped with 'fear, panic and dismay' today.

Relaxed: Kate and William are continuing to enjoy their tour as they enjoyed a boat ride to Tavanipupu in the Solomon Islands

Surprisingly relaxed: Prince William and wife Kate wave to the crowds on a truck decorated as a canoe as they depart Honiara International Airport on the Solomon Islands

All smiles: Kate and William's Diamond Jubilee tour has been a huge success despite the problems that have dogged the couple

The National Union of Journalists in Dublin criticised Mr Desmond's threat to shut down the Irish operation and accused him of double standards on the basis of some of his business interests, including the adult Television X channel.


Seamus Dooley, the general secretary of the Irish NUJ, said the media mogul's threats are just to 'ingratiate himself with the British establishment in the post-Leveson environment.'

Under fire: Irish Daily Star Editor Mike O'Kane defended his decision to publish the photos calling them 'very tasteful'

The Daily Express has been blasted for its coverage at times, particularly some of its stories on the disappearance of Leicestershire child Madeleine McCann.


Independent News and Media, which owns 50 per cent of the paper, has issued a grovelling apology but may still support the title.


It believes full closure would be 'disproportionate'. 


All British papers have refrained from publishing the photographs, including the Sun, the only British title to run pictures of William's brother Harry cavorting naked in a Las Vegas hotel last month. 


Michael O’Kane, editor of the Irish Daily Star, sought to defend his decision as his future looked increasingly in doubt.


‘The Duchess would be no different to any other celeb pics we would get in, for example Rihanna or Lady Gaga,’ he said.


‘She’s not the future queen of Ireland so the only place this is causing fury seems to be in the UK, and they are very, very tasteful pictures.’


The Irish Daily Star did not refer in today's edition to the decision to re-run pages from French magazine Closer, the first to publish the images. 


But it did carry photographs and a story about the latest stage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's trip to the Solomon Islands.

Fun: While the storm over the topless photographs of Kate continued to rage elsewhere, they spent the day smiling and joking as they scaled a giant tree

In their stride: William and Kate stroll along a canopy bridge in the rainforest determined not to let the embarrassment derail their foreign tour

Ireland's Press Ombudsman said at the weekend that no complaints had been made to its office over the Irish Daily Star. The office does not normally discuss complaints before investigations have been completed.



An investigation by the newspaper's Irish-based shareholder, Independent News and Media (INM), is being launched although it has already warned that it viewed publication as a 'poor editorial decision'.



Labour MP Steve Rotheram, a member of the Commons’ culture, media and sport committee, said: 'Publishing these pictures in Ireland was totally unacceptable.


'Newspaper owners should act responsibly. Desmond may say he didn’t know about all this but is it right for such a proprietor to continue to own a British newspaper after this? I’m not convinced it is.'


VIDEO: Irish Daily Star Editor defends printing the pictures...


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