Irish Daily Star Editor Michael O'Kane suspended over Kate Middleton photos

Tuesday 18 September 2012 15.58
A civil case seeking damages and an injunction preventing further publication is due to be launched later in Paris
A civil case seeking damages and an injunction preventing further publication is due to be launched later in Paris

Irish Daily Star Editor Michael O'Kane has been suspended from his job pending a full investigation following the publication of topless photos of Kate Middleton.

A board meeting of Indepenent Star, the company that operates the Irish Daily Star, has been cancelled.

The meeting had been expected to take place tomorrow.

It is understood the newspaper's managing director Ger Colleran is remaining in position.

Northern and Shell had been exploring its legal options regarding the future of the paper prior to the statement regarding its editor.

Mr O'Kane has been editor since November last year and joined the paper in 2002.

Press Ombudsman Professor John Horgan said his office had not received any complaints about the publication of the pictures.

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

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said he will revisit the Privacy Bill in the wake of the controversy.

In a statement, he said legislation is needed to ensure a balance between proper investigative journalism and an individual's right to privacy.

The minister said: "Some sections of the print media are either unable or unwilling in their reportage to distinguish between ‘prurient interest’ and ‘the public interest’."

"This detrimentally impacts upon the lives of both public personalities and private individuals and it seems that no value of any nature is attached to an individual's right to privacy, a right recognised by the Constitution and by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

"It is perceived financial gain as opposed to any principled freedom of expression that for some is the dominant value.

"The publication by the Irish Daily Star in Ireland of topless photographs of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is a clear illustration of this.

"It is clear that sections of the print media believe that public figures are fair game and have no right to privacy in respect of any aspect of their lives.

"It is my intention to revisit the provisions of the Privacy Bill 2006 which was reinstated to the Seanad Order paper following the formation of the Government, to consider what changes should be made to it in the context of developments that have taken place since its first publication and to then progress its enactment.

"What is needed is balanced legislation that does nothing to inhibit proper investigative journalism, the reporting of news and the expression of opinion on issues of genuine public interest in a manner that respects the ethos and values of a constitutional democracy but which also prevents the abuse of an individual's human rights and flagrant violation of an individual's right to privacy."

Lawyers for the British royal family lodged a criminal complaint in the French courts against the photographer who took the pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge.

A civil case seeking damages and an injunction preventing further publication has begun in Paris.

Lawyers for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked France's criminal prosecutors to consider charging the photographer who took topless photographs of the duchess.

St James's Palace confirmed that a criminal complaint over the photographs had been lodged this morning.

"We can confirm that a criminal complaint has been made to the French Prosecution Department today," a spokeswoman said.

"The complaint concerns the taking of photographs of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge whilst on holiday and the publication of those photographs in breach of their privacy."

The legal action comes as Italian gossip magazine Chi pressed ahead and published a 26-page spread of topless photos of the duchess despite the legal action on behalf of the couple in France.