Once more unto the beach, dear friends. The failure of Anna Ford’s High Court challenge to the PCC signals that happy days are here again for the paparazzi. For the moment, anyway.
The Mirror displays an Ibiza beach shot of Jade Jagger and hunk in a nude embrace that would have had Rodin eating his heart out. The Daily Mail buys the same snap (but crops the bottom half). The Sun has a kissing Jagger too, though it’s only Mick giving Sir Elton a smacker right in the middle of the French Riviera.
The Mail it was that (along with Hello!) had upset Ford with long-lens shots of her sunbathing with ex-astronaut David Scott on a public beach in Majorca. She was ill-advised to complain to the PCC when its Code requires consent for such snaps only when "there is a reasonable expectation of privacy".
She was also unwise to go to the High Court for judicial review when the PCC had adhered to the letter of the Code that is its governor.
Her knock-back was celebrated by publication in all five tabloid dailies of bikini papsnaps of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, aged 13 and 11. They were on a private yacht and (though nobody since Mussolini has claimed the Med as a private sea) no consent had been given.
Would Fergie run to the PCC? Or had the Mail done the press a favour by showing Ford what awaits those with the temerity to complain?
Its leader began: "The Mail has high regard for Anna FordÃ‰" (thus risking a complaint under Clause 1, Accuracy). It labelled her a "luscious lipped" liberal and "not a proper journalist". Ouch.
She was firmly in the paper’s sights. Even its medical columnist joined in: "Anna has aged considerably" and could do with an eye-lift. What next – the crossword? Old banger (4).
The message is mushroom-shaped. Dare to complain and the nuclear arsenal will be unleashed upon you. Isn’t victory enough for a mighty newspaper?
But was it chivalry that had the PCC not pursuing Ford for its legal costs? Or was it gratitude for ploughing on with a landmark case certain to end with a High Court proclamation that judicial review is not available as a court of appeal against the PCC?
Nor is it the way to determine breach of the human right to privacy. That is for another day and another court. Stick around.