Irish daily could be shut for printing Kate's topless pics



London: The Irish daily that carried topless pictures of British royal Kate Middleton could be shut down for its controversial decision to publish the "indecent" snaps.

More than 100 jobs would be lost in Dublin after Irish Daily Star's co-owner Richard Desmond reacted furiously to the tabloid's decision to print the photographs that have caused widespread anger and revulsion in Britain.

Desmond, whose Northern & Shell group also owns the Daily Express and Daily Star in the UK, has said he will take "immediate steps" to close the paper because it splashed 13 pictures of the 30-year-old Duchess of Cambridge across its pages, the Daily Mail reported.

The decision to print was made by the Irish Daily Star's editor Michael O'Kane, who did not inform Desmond that they would use the images taken with a long lens in Provence earlier this month.

"I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture," Desmond said.

"The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern & Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms," he said.

Even if the paper survives, which its other owner Independent News & Media (INM) wants it to, O'Kane's own position looks very precarious after the Palace said his decision was "motivated by greed".

If the paper is saved from the chopping block it will probably lose the right to use the Daily Star name.

"On behalf of INM, I wish to offer my deepest apologies," INM chief executive Joe Webb said.

"We are launching an internal inquiry to ensure there will never be a repeat of this breach of decency," he said.

The Irish Daily Star's newsroom was said to be gripped with "fear, panic and dismay" today.

The National Union of Journalists in Dublin criticised Desmond's threat to shut down the Irish operation and accused him of double standards on the basis of some of his business interests, including the adult Television X channel.

Apart from the Irish paper, an Italian and a French magazine have also published the controversial pictures and the Royals have sued the French magazine.

Prince William and Kate were clicked with a powerful camera lens as the couple holidayed in southern France.

PTI