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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK


Tabloid rapped over topless Sophie photo

Sophie Rhys-Jones: "Devastated" by the publication

The UK press watchdog has ordered The Sun to repeat its apology for publishing a topless picture of Prince Edward's fiancée.

The decade-old photograph of Sophie Rhys-Jones appeared in last Wednesday's newspaper - ahead of the couple's marriage later this month.

Lord Wakeham, Chairman of the the Press Complainst Commission
Buckingham Palace called the publication "premeditated cruelty", and made a formal protest to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) hours after the paper hit the streets.

It made the complaint under section three of the industry's code of practice, regarding privacy, and continued to pursue it despite a full-page apology from The Sun the following day.

The newspaper admitted it was wrong to publish the picture, but denied "deliberate cruelty".

It also announced it would donate all profits from the syndication of its pictures to charities of her choice.

[ image: The Sun's story was widely condemned]
The Sun's story was widely condemned
The chairman of the commission, Lord Wakeham, said the Sun's decision to publish the pictures was "reprehensible", and that such a mistake must not happen again.

"It cannot be acceptable for a paper to break the code one day, and apologise the next," he said.

He insisted that self-regulation by the press has largely been a success, and that "this regrettable episode did not detract from that".

He said the Sun's apology "in no way excuses the grave error which was made, nor lessens the distress it cuased Miss Rhys-Jones".

Buckingham Palace said the commission's statement, together with a fresh apology by The Sun, meant the dispute was resolved.

Edward and Sophie would not be pursuing a formal complaint and wished to put the matter behind them, it said.


Prince Edward's fiancée was snapped topless with Capital FM disc jockey Chris Tarrant while on a business trip to Spain in 1988.

Disc jockey Kara Noble, who took the photograph, was sacked from London commercial radio station Heart 106.2 after the photo was published.

Ms Noble was Mr Tarrant's co-presenter and a friend of Miss Rhys-Jones when the picture was taken.

Last year St James's Palace made complaints to the PCC about two newspapers - The Mirror and The Daily Star - over their coverage of the school lives of Prince William and Prince Harry.

The complaints were dropped after new guidelines for press coverage of the princes were issued.

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