No one really expected the papers to keep to their anguished promises five years ago to never use intrusive paparazzi shots ever again, but one might have expected them at least to pretend to keep to the new PCC rules about children that were introduced to protect Princes William and Harry.
“Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion”, the revised code stated, and went on “where material about the private life of a child is published, there must be justification for publication other than the fame, notoriety or position of his or her parents or guardian.”
Still, rules were made to be stretched beyond all recognition, and over the last few weeks several titles have looked more like the Mothercare catalogue than newspapers.
10 September: BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce said she didn’t want to present the evening bulletin because she’d miss her kids – so here’s a full page of pictures of her four-year-old son and ten-month-old daughter in the Daily Mail, courtesy of the long-distance photographers Noble/Draper!
Meanwhile in The Sun, the world’s greatest showbiz columnist Dominic Mohan unveils an exclusive picture that proves Madonna’s five-year-old daughter Lourdes looks a bit like her mum.
9 September: “To his legions of fans around the world, Eric Clapton is Slowhand, rock guitar legend. But to his little daughter Julie Rose, he is simply Daddy.” This page 3 scoop in the Mail is illustrated with four pictures by king pap Jason Fraser. Meanwhile over in The Sun Ken Goff provides a pic of Madonna going for a walk with her son Rocco. He doesn’t look all that much like her. But then he’s only two.
4 September: Both The Sun and Mail have the shock news that 13-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, has grown in the last year. Scientific proof is provided by a picture of him walking near his home with his mother, courtesy of Trevor Adams and the Matrix agency.
3 September: Princesses Beatrice (14) and Eugenie (12) arrive home from a summer holiday with their parents to be greeted at the airport by, yes, Jason Fraser. While the Mirror, Sun and Mail all use the picture, only the Mail follows it up with a full page of speculation on “what this picture really tells us about their ‘perfect divorce’”. So snide is the piece that it prompts a letter to the paper from Sarah Ferguson pointing out that the real reason she was looking so angry and her daughters so upset was that they didn’t appreciate having cameras shoved in their faces.
Meanwhile both the Mail and Sun feature several pictures of
Lourdes pushing Rocco in a pushchair. They look a bit like each other. Madonna isn’t even there.
29 August: This time it’s the turn of six-year-old Tiger Lily, daughter of Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence, to go for a walk, and an unnamed photographer is in attendance for The Mail. “Constantly grinning and giggling… the image contrasts poignantly with that of her troubled parents,” gushes showbiz correspondent Nadia Cohen. So nothing to do with the “fame, notoriety or position of his or her parents or guardian” then.
19 August: It’s the turn of the child all this was set up to protect - The Sun has pics from agency Big Pictures of Prince Harry, still one month short of his eighteenth birthday, smoking a cigarette with a friend. The caption is careful to point out that the picture was taken at Beaufort Polo Club in Gloucester. Naturally, if it were taken on the polo fields at Eton College, it would be in blatant breach of the PCC code (“Pupils must not be approached or photographed while at school without the permission of the school authorities”). And that would be disgraceful.