Prince Charles's royal aides threatened legal action against newspapers if they published photographs of Prince Harry naked in a Las Vegas hotel room, despite the fact they were freely available on the internet.
Lawyers at Harbottle & Lewis, the London legal firm, swung into action on Wednesday after they were notified by St James's Palace that a number of British newspapers had expressed an interest in buying the photographs and had intended to publish.
The photographs were being sold for £10,000 by the Splash News picture agency and it is understood about 10 British and Irish titles expressed an interest in buying them. So far no British titles have published the pictures, either in print or online, but three Irish titles have done so.
Newspaper editors are understood to have been asked informally by royal aides not to run the pictures at lunchtime on Wednesday. Later in the day a strongly worded letter from Harbottle & Lewis was circulated via the Press Complaints Commission, along with a covering note from the regulator saying it was happy to pass on St James's Palace's view that publication would be in breach of clause three of the PCC's editors' code of practice. The clause says "it is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent".
The letter from Harbottle & Lewis warns editors that publication outside the UK is no justification for publication in Britain.
"The only possible reason for publication of the photographs is one of prurience and nothing more," said the letter from the law firm.
"No matter of public interest as those words are understood in English law is raised by these photographs. The fact that they have appeared in another jurisdiction is meaningless."
The letter ended by warning that the members of the royal family "entirely reserve their rights as to any further steps" should publication occur.
Source: The Guardian