Naked Harry in the Sun

So many years ago that I can’t find it on Youtube or on IMDB, Jasper Carrott, who invented the “Sun readers” jokes, did a sketch on Carrott’s Lib of himself and another stand-up putting on huge Australian accents and talking about the bloody Poms, sex, and the Royal Family.

This was about Kathleen Dee-Anne Stark, actress and photographer, stage name Koo Stark, who appeared at the age of 20 in Emily, soundtrack by Rod McKuen:

Evocative of the Roaring Twenties, “Emily” is an erotic coming-of-age film featuring meticulous period detail and music. The sharp class distinctions of British society are blurred by the universal nature of sexual desire.

You may also remember her as Lady Sabrina Mulholland-Jjones from Red Dwarf.

Emily includes full-frontal nude scenes. So when, a few years later, Prince Andrew and Stark had an affair, the British newspapers had a huge ethical decision before them. Not whether or not to report on the affair – the British have always regarded the sex lives of the British Royal Family as our own personal reality show – but whether to use stills from Emily when running stories about Prince Andrew’s latest girlfriend, headlined “Randy Andy”.

For The Sun, I suppose the ethical dilemma consisted of whether or not to use the Stark naked pics on the front page.

One of the exchanges from that Carrott sketch was “Is that what they’ll put on the stamps?”- “You never can tell with the bloody Poms!”

The Sun’s justification for publishing photos of Prince Harry, naked, in a hotel room in the US was:

“There is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed… The photos have potential implications for the prince’s image representing Britain around the world. There are questions over his security during the Las Vegas holiday. Questions as to whether his position in the Army might be affected. Further, we believe Harry has compromised his own privacy.”

But really, they hardly needed a justification: this is simply what they intend to tell the PCC, and as everyone understands, the PCC will at worst issue a slap on the wrist – a trivial fine or a trivial apology. Assuming that Prince Harry or the Royal Family complain at all: the key advantage for the British press is of course that they usually don’t. (After all, their wealth and power is not in the least dependent on what we think of them.)

According to “a well-placed source” (the hacker, hacked?) Rupert Murdoch told the Sun’s editor on Thursday: “There is a principle here. I know this is about Leveson but this is humiliating. We can’t carry on like this. We should run them, do it and say to Leveson, we are doing it for press freedom.”

This may later come back to haunt Rupert Murdoch, as his key defense against legal responsibility for any of the criminal activities taking place at The Sun or The News of the World is that he had no notion about anything that was going on whatsoever and made no key decisions. Apparently this completely convinced at least one American gawker:

But it was immediately clear that Rupert had literally no idea what was happening at that moment, let alone what had happened over the past decade at News International. All you needed to do was look at the faces of his retinue—James next to him, Wendi and super-attorney Joel Klein seated behind him, leaning in to mark every word. They all looked terrified.

In the face of frustratingly genteel and polite inquiries, Murdoch repeatedly lost his train of thought, mumbled, failed to comprehend questions, and wandered on embarrassing tangents.

At the Leveson inquiry, Rupert Murdoch again claimed to be unaware of what was going on, and furthermore, to have tried to find out only to be frustrated by “strong characters” at the NotW:

“There was no attempt, by me or several levels below me, to cover it up. We set up inquiry after inquiry, we employed legal firm after legal firm, perhaps we relied too much on the conclusions of the police.”

Yet apparently, he takes a personal interest in whether or not the Sun should publish naked Harry pictures, even though St James Palace have personally asked the PCC not to. And his public response on Twitter, rather in contradiction to the high-minded sentiments which the Sun, as instructed by him, expressed:

The Telegraph’s Tory line, however, was that this whole thing was some low-class American woman’s fault. Present in the hotel suite, besides Prince Harry’s rich friends (all men), were a number of young woman. The photographs were taken with an iPhone:

One of the minders was quoted as “lackadaisically” telling the women who were invited back to the Prince’s room for a game of strip billiards in the early hours of the morning, “Awww, come on…no photos”. One reveller was quoted as saying that the officers “acted like a bunch amateurs”. Scotland Yard said it would never comment on protection matters.

There were also reports that, as the party got under way, several girls took pictures with their mobile phones, prompting concerns that further images could be released.

Another woman at the party said:

“When we got to the room Prince Harry was already there. There were about 25 people in total, at least 15 girls.

“There is a beautiful billiards room in the suite. One of the guys said I have an idea, let’s spice up a game of pool. Harry said let’s fucking do it. That was what jump started the party.

“The rules were if you potted the ball you got to go again. If you missed you took a piece of clothing off. Harry pulled that girl up to play with him. She had her eyes on Harry so she was going to do anything.”

Arthur Landon, a friend of Prince Harry, inherited £200 million from his arms dealer father, Brigadier Tim Landon. Family history of Arthur’s money: Tim Landon made friends with Qaboos bin Said Al Said, now Sultan of Oman, at Sandhurst: in 1970, at the request of the British government, Tim Landon helped his friend to overthrow his father: Sultan Said bin Taimur was flown to London where he died two years later, Tim Landon stayed in Oman for another ten years, helping his friend the absolute monarch “modernise” the country and in the process apparently making a lot of money. His obituary in the Guardian notes:

Always a somewhat shadowy figure, his visibility decreased in direct proportion to the growth of his notoriety as an arms and oil broker. [Interestingly, virtually none of the external links from his Wikipedia bio still work.] His name rarely appeared in company reports and he was absent from Who’s Who. To preserve his anonymity in London, he was ferried about in his own black cab. On the rare occasions when he was quoted, Landon denied having done anything illegal, leaving unanswered the question of how, a penniless fourth son, he came to be worth more than £500m.

The photographs of Prince Harry were sold to a US website for about £10,000. Arthur Landon says this sort of thing is “really despicable” (as opposed to his own wealth, which is presumably just fine):

“I wasn’t in that hotel room so I don’t know if one of those girls took the pictures, although I was there on the holiday. I think a lot of people have been left really disgusted to think that someone would have gone into Harry’s hotel room, taken those pictures and then released them to the world.”

No, not really.

In May 2002, when Angus Deayton lost his job as Have I Got News For You presenter because he’d become the news story, one commenter pointed out that the lesson for male celebrities in particular is that when a beautiful woman appears to find you irresistibly attractive, it’s just possible she has an agenda: any female celebrity would perfectly understand that. Angus Deayton simply seems to have taken it as his due (it’s that massive sense of entitlement) that Caroline Martin wanted to get off with him, which in retrospect seems as uncharmingly naive as a man who goes to Vietnam and tells himself that the bar girls find his manliness irresistible. Prince Harry and other rich young men on holiday in Las Vegas may have thought that the “girls” who were partying in the suite were all there because they found sweaty British men adorable. Did I mention massive sense of entitlement?

On Thursday, the Sun had decided that instead of exploiting Prince Harry they’d publish a mock-up of what the photo looked like, with picture editor Harry Miller stripping naked to play the Prince – and he asked an intern on work experience to take her clothes off to play the young woman in the pic. She was named in the Sun and the caption claimed she and Miller were “happy to strip”:

One manager of a large media company, who did not want to be named, said it was highly unethical to get an intern to strip. “If we did that to a work experience person, we’d worry about finding ourselves in court.”

Iain Overton, at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, notes that when years ago he was researching for the BBC on a prospective film about how “the newsroom culture of the British tabloid press corroded young reporters’ idealism“:

I spoke to dozens of journalists about their early experiences in newsrooms. The picture that emerged was of a sad and desperate time. Competition to get a good gig is intense. Fine if you have a starred first from Cambridge, but most wannabe reporters have to just ‘suck it up’.

I heard of young women asked to pose in bikinis with snakes, or go on a health-damaging diet, or going on a blind date.

Two things emerged.

Without exception, none of them now viewed the things they had done in their first, tentative steps into reporting as noble. They were ashamed or embarrassed of having so clearly compromised their own integrity. Even if at the time they had rationalised it as ‘harmless fun’.

Second, they were all moulded by what they had done. Whether they were aware of it or not, they had let go of something when they accepted that first humiliation. It informed the things that followed.

He adds:

for those journalists, the slide into gutter practices that have tainted how many people view journalists – stealing photos of dead relatives from unguarded living rooms, or rooting through celebrities’ bins – started there. Of the journalists I interviewed, it was only the ones who had agreed to do whatever ridiculous thing was asked of them who had ended up using such tactics.

Petition: No More Page 3

Heir it is! Martin Rowson

Following on (tweeted by Murdoch’s tireless PR team) at 8:58pm:

The equation is much simpler. Murdoch’s newspapers survived by selling sleaze. These days, people can get all the sleaze they want, free on the Internet. Murdoch became the UK’s biggest purveyor of soft porn when he put the “page 3 girl” in The Sun, but hacked phones are no substitute for investigative journalism and reveal-all photos are reveal-all online. The Mail has the sell-hate market all tied up: and it’s not as if Murdoch’s any good at running a newspaper that does quality journalism, the sort people find it worthwhile to pay for without the boobs and bollocks.

Let’s get real: Murdoch’s simple equation dooms his newspapers, and his PR team hopes you won’t notice that it dooms no one else’s.

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