Desmond to close Irish Daily Star publisher
Daily Star says duchess no different from any other celeb
Italian mag which published Diana crash picture to publish more topless photos
Richard Desmond has vowed to close the joint venture company which runs the Irish Daily Star in the wake of its decision to publish 13 pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless.
The pictures appeared in Saturday's edition of the paper prompting Northern and Shell – which publishes the Express and Star titles in the UK – to move "within hours" to close the joint venture with Independent News and Media which publishes the title.
Northern and Shell has been joint owner of the Irish title after inheriting the business relationship with IN&M. For the last 11 years it has been published independently of the English title.
Up to 100 jobs would be lost if the Irish Daily Star were to close, but is unclear whether closing the joint venture company which publishes it would mean the paper itself going out of business.
Northern and Shell owner Richard Desmond 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.”
In a statement Express Newspapers 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 privacy. The Irish Daily Star is a joint venture over which we have no editorial control. We were not given advance notice of the decision to publish these pictures by their management and we are consulting with our lawyers as a matter of urgency over what we believe to be a serious breach of their contract.
“Northern & Shell is profoundly dismayed at the decision made by the 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 situation, we felt that there was no public interest in publishing those images. This is of course a far more distressing situation.”
A report in yesterday's Sunday Express said: "It is understood that Northern & Shell directors are taking legal advice relating to the closure with immediate effect.
In a final statement, Mr Desmond said: 'I can’t do more than close it.'"
Michael O'Kane, who became editor of the Irish Daily Star in November 2011, told the Sunday Times: "The duchess would be no different to any other celeb pics we would get in, for example Rihanna or Lady Gaga.
"Kate is 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."
After appearing the French edition of Closer magazine last week, the pictures are also set to appear in Italian title Chi.
It has now emerged that up to 200 photos were taken of the Duchess as she sunbathed topless in a private French chateau.
Chi is the same title which six years ago published a controversial picture taken from the scene of the Paris crash which killed Princess Diana in 1997.
Chi editor Alfonso Signorini said: "These pictures are not offensive or in poor taste, they are not morbid and they do not damage the dignity of anyone. If I didn't recognise the journalistic value of what I had and if I did not publish them I would be better off in a market selling artichokes.
"These pictures were taken when the couple were on a terrace and they were taken from a public place so there is no suggestion of an invasion of privacy. Whoever was passing by could have taken them."
It is believed that the photos could have been taken by a photographer using a long-lens camera standing on a public road.