THE BLOG

Page 3 - Not Dead, Merely Buried

22/01/2015 11:23 GMT | Updated 24/03/2015 09:59 GMT

Page 3 - dead or alive? Hundreds of column inches and hours of airtime have been made to look rather foolish this morning by Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth and her cheeky wink.

Today's caption is a belter, entitled Clarifications and Corrections: "Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth."We would like to apologise on behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the past two days talking and writing about us."

In fairness I was about to join them on Tuesday, to cheer the apparent news that Dave Dinsmore, a fine editor, and his proprietor, the Dirty Digger himself, had finally bowed to pressure and realised that The Sun won't collapse if it stops putting a semi-naked women on Page 3.

On Tuesday The Times (sister paper... oops) loftily told its readers earlier this week that the time had finally come to do what Clare Short never managed, to put Page 3 to bed forever.

A succession of forlorn looking "glamour girls" trooped in to their studios at New Broadcasting House to mourn the fact that News UK had finally "given in to the bra burners".

Some complained that their career options were being limited by people who chose a different definition of the term "feminist".

But they were closely followed by opponents who sported slightly less fake tan but were equally keen to comment on an apparently seminal moment. They pointed out that those girls' career options should not be defined by middle-aged men working for News UK.

Professor Roy Greenslade even produced an obituary.

But something didn't smell right.

After all, this should surely have been a seminal moment. The Sun surely wasn't going to let others define this decision? Where was Mr Dinsmore, or the Sun's suave managing editor Stig Abel? Why was its spokesman's only comment that "The Sun's Page 3 is where it will always be, between pages two and four?"

It may surprise some people, but the future of topless models is not that important an issue for the paper at the moment. It is in the middle of a series of massive criminal trials. The majority of its senior staff are in the dock over alleged payments to public officials.

Over Christmas Page 3 disappeared several times and no-one noticed because the commentariat were at their weekend cottages in Whitstable. In fact, a more subtle change has happened.

Page 3 won't disappear, nor will it appear every day.

Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth won't be the automatic choice for the page between two and four, if Gemma from Hollyoaks or Michelle from Corrie decides to do a photo shoot in lingerie or swimwear that may be the preferred choice.

The design editor of The Sun who showed Rupert Murdoch the first topless page designs in 1970, Vic Giles, memorably says Rupert Murdoch told him: "I like it. Let's print it. Keep that Page 3 style going, forever."

In reality, nothing lasts forever, as we know from the death of the News of the World. But if a decision is finally made about the use of topless pictures, it won't be made this week, and if Rupert Murdoch has anything to do with it, it won't be because of a campaign like No More Page 3.

Ian Kirby is the former political editor of the News of the World