A variety of leaders from media groups and the world of politics have weighed in on the furore surrounding topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. The photos, showing Kate on her honeymoon with Prince William, were deemed fit for publication late last week by the French edition of Closer. Over the weekend, they were picked up by Irish edition of the Daily Star, and are now set to feature in a 26-page special supplement by Italian gossip mag Chi.
UK Star owner Richard Desmond, who runs the Irish version in partnership with Dublin firm Independent News & Media (INM), signalled his displeasure at the paper’s decision. “I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture,” he said. “The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever.” Meanwhile, Chi editor Alfonso Signorini defended his title’s supplement plan, saying: “They are not scandalous, there are no unpublishable pictures. It is just a huge scoop.”
Former prime minister John Major – who has been William’s guardian since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 – said on Andrew Marr’s BBC One morning programme: “I don’t think we need to mince words about these photographs. The way they have been obtained is tasteless … It is the action of a peeping tom. In our country we prosecute peeping toms.”
Disabled staffers made redundant by last month’s closure of 24 Remploy factories are outraged at being placed on emergency tax codes for their final pay packets – a move that caused many of them to lose almost half their wages. With glacial HMRC complaints procedures awaiting them, it could be several months before their funds are recovered. One factory administrator told the Express that the issue of P45s to staffers prior to their final payments triggered the use of emergency codes, adding: “It’s absolutely disgusting the way we’ve been treated.” Unite spokesman Kevin Hepworth said: “These people have been stuck in the same tax bracket as the Tories’ millionaire mates.”
French winemakers are aghast at European Commission plans to allow US wineries to use the word “chateau” on their labels. At present, the honour is reserved for any French producer that grows its grapes on a sloped parcel of land known as a terroir – but the Commission’s plan would allow US wine blenders who use terroir-grown grapes to append the “chateau” tag to their products. Laurent Gapenne, president of French wine merchants Bonnet-Gapenne – a firm that represents 400 wine-making companies across France – said: “It is unthinkable that the European Commission, which is supposed to defend our interests, approves of this measure … the consumer is going to feel lost.”
Independent on Sunday
Bosses as US meat-processing firm Beef Products Inc have launched a $1.2bn defamation lawsuit against media conglomerate ABC, following a Jamie Oliver programme that criticised one of its leading commodities. Broadcast as part of Oliver’s US-set Food Revolution series, the programme took issue with so-called “pink slime” – a form of mechanically recovered meat produced with the aid of a centrifuge, which has become a staple ingredient in a host of US foods. Oliver’s show inspired a wave of negative coverage about the product, on which basis the firm alleges that ABC “decided to destroy this business, and decimated its product in the marketplace … with malice.”
Former prime minister Tony Blair has taken out a secured loan of £4.2m from the financial services company he advises, JP Morgan – with speculation mounting that he is searching for a home in the sun. Blair, who left office in 2007 and now carries out consultancy work thought to earn him £20m per year, already has a £7.5m London residence, a £5.75m Buckinghamshire mansion and has splashed out more than £1m a pop on houses for each of his three children.
Campaigners including former Apprentice star Katie Hopkins have joined forces to form the single-issue We Demand A Referendum Party, to press for a public vote on the UK’s membership of the EU. Candidates are on standby to throw their hats in the ring for seats in the European Parliament, unless prime minister David Cameron offers the electorate a straight in-or-out vote. The party has even resurrected the slogan of James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party, which cost the Tories key seats in the 1997 election: “Let the people decide.”