The fate of Ireland’s Daily Star newspaper will be decided at a board meeting on Tuesday after Independent Newspapers launched an inquiry into the decision to public topless photos of Kate Middleton.
Both Independent Newspapers and Britain’s Northern & Shell will be represented at the meeting after the paper published as normal on Monday despite the storm.
Northern & Shell owner and former porn mag proprietor Richard Desmond, a 50 per cent stakeholder in the Irish Daily Star, had threatened to close the paper after the photos of the Duchess of Cambridge were printed without his knowledge.
INM and the union representing journalists at the paper have since labelled his threat as a knee-jerk reaction.
Ireland’s Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte entered the row on Monday when he too claimed the closure of the paper would be a mistake.
His statement came after the British Royal family launched a legal action for invasion of privacy against the French magazine which first published the photos and may take a similar case against the Irish Daily Star.
Rabbitte said, “I cannot understand how Desmond could reconcile the rather timid move by The Star with what he’s prepared to do in some of his publications in terms of the way women are presented.
“Desmond’s response to the photos of the former Kate Middleton being published in an Irish paper, while he has no difficulty publishing photographs of women topless is hypocrisy.
“I wouldn’t have made the decision the Star made - I wouldn’t make a lot of the decisions the Star makes - I would still defend its right to continue to publish its newspaper.
“The Star has a following in Ireland, it has a readership in Ireland… there are, I understand, 70 to 80 people employed there. So let’s keep things in perspective.”
The Irish Examiner newspaper reports that Independent Newspapers has launched an investigation into the decision to publish the photographs.
A statement from INM said the threat by co-owner Desmond to close the newspaper was ‘disproportionate.’
The statement said a call to close the tabloid, which employs more than 120 staff, is disproportionate to a poor editorial decision that occurred without reference to either shareholder.
The statement added: “INM believes that the circumstances that led to the regrettable decision by the Irish Daily Star to re-publish pages from the French magazine Closer warrant immediate investigation and steps are already under way in this regard.”
Irish Daily Star editor Michael O’Kane and managing director Ger Colleran have both defended the decision to publish the topless pictures and will be quizzed as part of the investigation.
In a statement issued on Sunday, INM appeared to distance themselves from the decision to publish.
Desmond, who previously published several porn magazines in Britain and currently owns x-rated television stations as well as the Daily Star and Daily Express newspapers, said: “I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture.
“The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern & Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”
Northern & Shell’s communications director Mimi Turner said: “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.
“Northern & Shell is profoundly dismayed at the decision made by Irish Daily Star, which would never have been made by any of the newspapers or magazines under our editorial control.
“We consider all aspects of privacy very carefully, and would never condone this action. When the recent pictures of Prince Harry were made available to UK newspapers, even though that was a very different and more public situation, we felt there was no public interest in publishing those images.
“This is of course a far more distressing situation and while it has nothing to do with the Daily Star UK or any of Northern & Shell’s own newspapers, we very much regret the distress it has caused.”