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    Thursday, 5 April 2007

    PCC off the hook? Middleton pulls complaint

    Kate Middleton has withdrawn her complaint to the PCC in which she alleged harassment at the hands of the Daily Mirror (1,2). This followed the publication of a full apology by Richard Wallace (the newspaper's editor). There has been an interesting debate on Greenslade, first lamenting the fact that the PCC won't now be asked to take a position on the acceptability of journalists and paparazzi continually trailing public figures, and more generally on the degree of protection that celebrities and other public figures warrant / deserve / need.

    I've begun to wonder, though, what might be the ramifications of a tighter regulatory regime. On one vision, we might see the development of what many might perceive to be a more 'grown-up' public culture in which celebrity tittle-tattle ultimately drew less of an audience and private matters were left in the private domain unless called up in support of some public interest story. Or at least, the only tittle-tattle in the papers would be that sanctioned by the celebrities themselves.

    More likely - and this is alluded to by Greenslade (sort of) when he mentions 'the continuing appetite for such pictures in foreign papers and magazines' - we might get the above in mainstream media, but then also see a shifting of the site of publication of non-consensual pap-shots. That is, we may have continuing intrusions on privacy, but with the publication driven 'underground' to (offshore) online start-ups (think popbitch / popdirt, or the proliferating online gossip sites re teachers / fellow students and so on). Plus ca change?

    Incidentally, I'll be attending a conference at the end of the month hosted by the Franco-British Lawyers Society in Belfast on the subject of the right to privacy in the UK and France. I'm expecting that my cosy illusion of there being a more 'refined' public culture in France will be shattered then, but more on that anon...


    Anonymous said...

    Came across this and thought it was related - sort of...

    Andrew Scott said...

    Continuing the royal theme, it seems as though Prince Charles has had to revert to the court to seek the retrieval of the remaining of his diaries held by the Mail on Sunday, and moreover, that the case will now be going to a full hearing after a High Court refused a summary judgment (see Prince Charles fails in new legal battle over journals.
    Presumably, the newspaper will argue that there is a public interest in the content of some of the other journals. As one door on the meaning of the term closes, another opens...

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