The debate about whether British newspapers should publish photographs of a naked Prince Harry playing strip billiards has been fast and furious this morning.

It's the hot topic on every radio phone-in and I've been asked to air my views on BBC Tees.

The Northern Echo hasn't published the pictures this morning and I didn't have to make a decision on them because they weren't available to us. We rely on the Press Association (PA) for our national and international news. PA didn't put the pictures out and regional papers, like The Northern Echo, aren't in a position to bid big money for them.

Loading article content

However, the key point in the debate is that any newspaper which published the pictures would be in breach of the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice.

Under Clause 3 (Privacy) it says: "Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life...Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent."

The pictures were taken in the privacy of a hotel room so it would have been a clear breach of the code. And what would have been the public interest argument? 

When Prince Harry famously posed in a Nazi uniform, it was easier to use the public interest justification because of the offensive nature of what he had done. It was a bigger misjudgement by him and the Palace apologised.

This time, there isn't really a compelling public interest defence. Prince Harry gets involved in some private horseplay and someone betrays him by flogging the pictures for £10,000. He's been a bit daft but the pictures fall more into the "so what - he's just having a bit of fun" category for most people.

With national newspapers reeling from the News International phone-hacking scandal, the implications of the Leveson Inquiry, and a warning from the Palace that there would be a complaint to the PCC, no one was prepared to take a chance. The public mood, fuelled by what the News of the World did, has acted as a deterrent.

The Sun would clearly have loved to use the pictures but didn't dare. Instead, it has taken the bizarre step of getting members of staff to recreate the naughty scene in the Las Vegas hotel room.

Features picture editor Harry Miller, who looks more like Harry Redknapp than Prince Harry, finds himself naked on the front page, clutching his crown jewels. Quite frankly, it's a bit pathetic.

But spare a thought for 21-year-old Sophie Henderson who also poses naked in the Sun story, playing the role of Prince Harry's female friend in the strip billiards match.

The Sun describes her as an "intern" - in other words, she's on work experience - and is reported to have been happy to strip.

Fair enough but imagine her dilemma. She's desperate for a job, they're as rare as hen's teeth, and this is her big chance to make an impression. If she's asked if she's prepared to do it, what's she going to say?