An Irish newspaper has now published the topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge, but this sort of gross intrusion into people's personal privacy is nothing new.
The story of the topless Duchess is likely to run and run, but there have been far more outrageous intrusions in the past, and doubtless there will be in the future, sooner rather than later.
Remember the Kennedy assassination? He was the bloke who was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, the self-styled patsy. Before the lunatic fringe started making bizarre noises and ludicrous allegations about the 9/11 attacks, the same type of people - indeed a few of the very same people - made similar noises about the tragic events in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Everything about the Kennedy assassination was questioned by the conspiracy theorists (read scurrilous gossip mongers), including the autopsy on the President. The original autopsy notes were bloodstained. These were later burnt or otherwise disposed of; the final typed report had a handwritten draft appended to it, and this was represented by conspiracy theorists as the hidden hand of this non-existent conspiracy substituting a bogus report.
Then there was the little matter of the autopsy photos. Imagine if your son, brother or father had been brutally murdered, shot, stabbed, or beaten to death. How would you feel about seeing the autopsy photographs being displayed to the world? The authorities at the time withheld these to spare the Kennedy family. This was interpreted as suppression of evidence.
In the UK, this would not have been an issue, the autopsy photographs along with most of the relevant documents would have been locked away for thirty years if not a hundred, as this letter shows. A pathologist's report may though be disclosed to the next of kin of a victim, as in the case of Clarke Pearce, who was murdered by Satpal Ram in November 1986.
Much of the Kennedy assassination material is now available on-line, and autopsy photographs of the President can be found all over the Internet. That disclosure can hardly have made the Kennedy family feel any better, and it certainly hasn't stopped any of the lurid speculation by the conspiracy mongers.
In the UK there have been many cases of people having their privacy invaded by the tabloid press. The model Naomi Campbell has never been exactly camera shy, but the courts found that one newspaper had gone too far when it published a photograph of her leaving a narcotics anonymous meeting. This was a lengthy case in which the paper argued there was a public interest in its reporting this non-event. Clearly this was at least arguable because she was seen in a public place. Certainly a vicar or an MP visiting a brothel would have been well within this ambit; however, the courts sided with the model, by and large.
Some of the disclosures made during the Leveson Inquiry were far more clear cut, such as the treatment to which Heather Mills has been subjected over the years. The entrapment of Max Mosley was one incident, but it was no less despicable all the same, and there was clearly no public interest in what wealthy men do with willing floozies in private. Nor should there be in this day and age unless there are exceptional circumstances. Clearly public officials and the like must be held to higher standards than the rest of us. Kate Middleton is a public figure; she is also a married woman, and for a married woman to sunbathe or walk about topless on secluded private property at the height of summer in the presence of her husband is nobody's business but their own.
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