The Independent's media commentator Stephen Glover argues today that the News of the World and the Daily Mail apologised to England's football manager Fabio Capello, after publishing pictures of him and his wife on a beach, even though there was no breach of the Press Complaints Commission code.
Glover writes:"The newspapers' apology is unprecedented in these circumstances. Ill-mannered and intrusive they may have been. The fact remains that it is not an infringement of the Press Complaints Commission's published code to carry photographs of public figures taken in a public place, and I should be surprised if it were illegal."
He adds: "On grounds of taste I am on the side of the Capellos. Why not leave them alone? Moreover, Mr Capello is something of a national treasure, having revived England's footballing fortunes. We don't want him legging it back to Italy in disgust, though I suppose he would be unlikely to do so as it would entail giving up a salary of £6m a year.
"But this case is not fundamentally about taste. It is really about the freedom of the Press. By all means let the Capellos ask newspapers not to run holiday snaps of them. But if it becomes an offence to publish pictures of public people in public places, one can imagine all manner of concealment. At the very least, such a measure might enable celebrities to present themselves to the world on Hello! terms, with all their imperfections airbrushed out. In an extreme example a politician might object to being photographed in public when publication would be in the public interest."
"It may seem a trivial case, but I am sorry that the News of the World and the Daily Mail should have run up the white flag so quickly. A new precedent may have been established which takes us further than the J K Rowling case towards a de facto law of privacy. "
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