The Sun today ran a front page picture of Prince Harry in the nude which has been circulating online since Wednesday. Even The Sun's own front page admitted the picture was one its readers, or at least any who care, will have "already seen on the internet":
Commenting online, many observers were quick to question why the paper would flag the degree to which print is lagging behind online on this story:
But the paper has justified its 'yesterday's news tomorrow' approach by saying the issue wasn't about really, really wanting to run a nudey pic of Prince Harry, but it had become about fighting for the very freedom of the press and public interest. It's making a stand, you see:
"We are publishing the photos because we think Sun readers have a right to see them..."
What they mean of course is "we think Sun readers have a right to see them... in The Sun" because by their own admission these pictures were not tricky to find elsewhere.
"The images were first published on the web three days ago. But the Palace's lawyers, via the Press Complaints Commission, warned the UK's newspapers against printing them, claiming they would breach Harry's privacy and the PCC Code.
"Since then the entire UK media has reported on them and told readers and viewers how to find them... By yesterday, the photographs were indisputably in the public domain... That generated a legitimate public debate about the behaviour of the man who is third in line to the throne and increasingly taking on official duties. Yet as that debate went on in homes, factories, offices and pubs, the Press were still effectively banned from using the pictures.
And who's looking out for all those people on the wrong side of Britain's digital divide who are being denied the basic human right of looking at nudey photos online? The Sun, that's who.
"It is absurd that in the internet age newspapers like The Sun could be stopped from publishing stories and pictures already seen by millions on the free-for-all that is the web.
"It was vital for us to run them."
Well I'm convinced.
The Mirror meanwhile has used the story as an opportunity to make a bid for the moral high ground, claiming it stands by its decision not to publish the pictures:
"The Daily Mirror took the decision not to publish the pictures of Prince Harry because we would be in clear breach of the Press Complaints Commission's Editors' Code of Practice, regarding intrusion of privacy, which we signed up to and we stand by that decision."
Perhaps in a further dig at its rival, The Mirror also ran a story claiming that 12 million Brits had already seen the three-day-old pictures anyway. So who would waste a front page on a three-day old news story?
Obviously, The Mirror has still lead with a Prince Harry story today. It just didn't use the nudey pictures.