British royals slam 'greedy' Irish paper over Kate snaps

Posted at 09/15/12 11:47 PM

LONDON - Britain's royal family on Saturday slammed the Irish Daily Star newspaper as greedy over its decision to publish topless photographs of Prince William's wife Catherine.

The candid snaps appeared in Saturday's paper but will not be published in its British or Northern Ireland editions, editor Mike O'Kane told the BBC.

A spokesman for the couple's St James' Palace office said that "there can be no motivation for this action other than greed."

O'Kane later accepted that his motivation was to sell newspapers, but said that was nothing to apologise for.

"The duchess would be no different to any other celeb pics we would get in, for example Rihanna or Lady Gaga," he told the BBC.

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

The royals launched legal action on Friday against French magazine Closer -- which is part of the media empire of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi -- after it became the first publication to print the paparazzi snaps.

The Irish newspaper became the second paper to publish the photos, carrying scanned pages from the Closer magazine spread on the cover and on pages six and seven of Saturday's edition.

The paper is a joint venture between Northern and Shell publishing group and Ireland's Independent News and Media.

Northern and Shell said in a statement: "We abhor the decision of the Irish Daily Star to publish these intrusive pictures of the duke and duchess (of Cambridge) which we, like St James's Palace, believe to be a grotesque invasion of their privacy.

"We are consulting with our lawyers as a matter of urgency over what we believe to be a serious breach of their contract."

The royal family earlier warned an Italian magazine that "unjustifiable upset" would be heaped on Catherine if it went ahead with plans to print the photos of her sunbathing.

The royal family hoped to contain the scandal by swiftly suing Closer -- but Chi, an Italian weekly also published by Berlusconi's Mondadori Group, announced late Friday that it plans to print the same snaps on Monday.

Britain's press, which has refrained from printing the photos, compared the treatment of Kate to that of William's mother Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash as she was pursued through Paris by paparazzi.

O'Kane said British newspapers had got themselves into a "total muddle" since the beginning of an inquiry into press ethics, which was set up in the wake of the country's phone-hacking scandal.

The Irish editor believes newspapers are now scared that harsh press regulations will be introduced if they antagonise inquiry chairman Brian Leveson.

"We now have this ridiculous situation where elites are being protected by the press," he told the BBC.

He insisted that his paper was within its rights to publish the photographs as they had been taken from a public highway.

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