The rules governing media intrusion into people's private lives are being rewritten after a series of front-page Royal exclusives led by the hoax video of the Princess of Wales.
The rules form part of the industry's code of practice administered by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), whose chairman, Lord Wakeham, yesterday spoke out against the recent "stream of injudicious stories centring on the private lives of public individuals".
Grahame Thomson, secretary of the editors' committee which updates the code, confirmed last night that the publication of pictures from the faked video of Princess Diana and her former lover, James Hewitt - published by the Sun on Tuesday as the real thing - raised privacy issues. That section of the code was being "restated", he said. "There has to be a limit as to how far you go. If a paper is stupid enough to accept phony material without checking, that is up to them. "But the protection of privacy is very important, and although there is fairly adequate cover in the code, we are making some changes." The issue of media misbehaviour has returned to the fore following several recent "exclusives" about members and former members of the Royal Family, including the revelations of a fortune teller consulted by the Duchess of York, and a claim that Prince William had a crush on the step-sister of one of his schoolmates. Neither story triggered any complaint to the PCC, while the Sun's five- page "Royal World Exclusive" about the Diana hoax video prompted only four complaints, all from members of the public. As part of a general clampdown, however, the Lord Chancellor's department is expected to issue a consultation paper later this month recommending that media payment of huge sums to witnesses in trials beoutlawed. …