The Daily Star’s Irish edition published topless photos taken of Middleton (the Duchess of Cambridge) sunbathing on a private vacation “on the terrace of a mansion” in France. Closer magazine in France published the photos first, and Middleton and Prince William quickly got an injunction against further publication by that magazine. At the time, The Daily Star’s O’Kane defended the publication of the photos from Closer “as a service to our readers” and because Middleton isn’t “the future queen of Ireland.” Daily Star parent company Northern and Shell, whose owner Richard Desmond threatened to “close down the joint venture” (the newspaper) over the photos, called the photos “intrusive” and a “grotesque invasion of their privacy” and their publication “a serious breach of [the Daily Star’s] contract.”
O’Kane had been suspended after the photos ran and parent company Independent Star announced an “investigation into the circumstances that led to the Irish Daily Star re-publishing” the pictures, as iMediaEthics wrote at the time.
According to ITV, the Daily Star issued a statement about O’Kane’s recent resignation, reading:
“As a result of the publication on 15 September 2012, issues arose with the shareholders of Independent Star Limited.
“Having considered those issues in tandem with Mr O’Kane, it is Mr O’Kane’s decision to resign as editor of the Irish Daily Star, effective immediately.
“Mr O’Kane acted at all times in a highly professional and appropriate manner and in the best interests of the newspaper.”
iMediaEthics has written to Ireland’s press ombudsman John Horgan asking if the council ever received any complaints from Middleton’s representatives about the pictures. The Irish Daily Star was also asked about the investigation into the photos, if this incident will affect any practices at the newspaper, if O’Kane decided to resign or if he was asked, and if Desmond’s September calls for the newspaper to be closed have ended now that O’Kane has resigned. We’ll update with any responses.
Hat Tip: Gawker
UPDATE: 11/25/2012 10:47 AM EST: Murray Consultants’ Pat Walsh responded on the Irish Daily Star’s behalf. Walsh told iMediaEthics by email:
“For context the investigation by the shareholders had not yet concluded when Mr O’Kane resigned. The statement makes it clear that it was Mr O’Kane’s decision to resign. To my knowledge neither the newspaper nor the Press Ombusdman received any complaints in connection with the republishing of pages of the French magazine.
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“As the investigation by shareholders is still ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further. I include a copy of yesterday’s statement below for your information.”
The full statement reads:
“O’KANE RESIGNS AS EDITOR OF THE IRISH DAILY STAR
“Michael O’Kane has been a valued member of the editorial team at the Irish Daily Star for the past 10 years, latterly as Editor.
“As a result of the publication on 15 September 2012, issues arose with the shareholders of Independent Star Limited. Having considered those issues in tandem with Mr O’Kane, it is Mr O’Kane’s decision to resign as Editor of the Irish Daily Star, effective immediately.
“Independent News & Media confirms that Michael O’Kane acted at all times in a highly professional and appropriate manner and in the best interests of the Irish Daily Star and followed all editorial policies and guidelines.
“Independent Star Limited thanks Michael O’Kane for his valued service and wishes him the very best in the next chapter of his career in the media, which we are certain will be long and fruitful.
“Ends. Saturday, 24 November, 2012”
UPDATE: 11/25/2012 11:52 AM EST: Ireland’s press ombudsman, John Horgan, told iMediaEthics by email that he didn’t receive any complaints about the Daily Star’s publication of the photos from Middleton or her representatives. He wrote:
“We had a small number of complaints (less than half a dozen, if memory serves) which were not within the remit of my office because, for a complaint to be within remit, it has to be (if a third party complaint, as these were) made with the consent of the person named in the article. None of the complaints made to my Office were accompanied by the required consent, either of the Duchess herself, or of someone nominated to act on her behalf.”