NEWS
15/09/2012 15:09 BST | Updated 17/09/2012 14:38 BST

Kate Middleton Topless In The Irish Daily Star: Desmond Taking Steps To Close Down Joint Venture

Richard Desmond has begun "immediate steps" to close down his joint venture with the Irish Daily Star after the newspaper caused outrage by publishing topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Irish Daily Star is a joint venture between Independent News and Media and Northern and Shell, of which Desmond is chairman.

But following publication of the photos, Northern and Shell said it had no editorial control over the newspaper.

The media boss said: "I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture.

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

It comes after Mimi Turner, Northern and Shell's communications director, said the paper abhorred the decision by the Irish Daily Star, which is part owned by Desmond's Northern and Shell, to publish the pictures of Kate, saying it was "a grotesque invasion" of the royal couple's privacy.

Earlier on Saturday the editor of the UK Daily Star Sunday, Gareth Morgan, hinted Desmond would pull out of the venture, telling the BBC the paper was so disgusted they would be "open to discussing withdrawing completely from this joint venture."

St James's Palace condemned the Irish Daily Star publishing the pictures, saying they were motivated by "greed"

Mike O'Kane, the editor of the paper, earlier defended the decision.

"The Duchess would be no different to any other celeb pics we would get in, for example Rihanna or Lady Gaga," he told the BBC.

"She's not the future Queen of Ireland so really the only place this is causing fury seems to be in the UK, and they are very, very tasteful pictures."

He said the UK had "given the world a free press" and suggested the Leveson inquiry had gotten the British press into a "muddle."

Independent News and Media tonight issued a statement saying: "The decision by the Irish Daily Star to republish pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge from the French magazine Closer was regrettable and in poor taste.

"Independent News and Media had no prior knowledge of the decision to publish."

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Northern and Shell's full statement

"We abhor the decision of the Irish Daily Star to publish these intrusive pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which we, like St James's Palace, believe to be a grotesque invasion of their privacy."

She added: "The Irish Daily Star is a joint venture with Independent News and Media over which we have no editorial control.

"We were not given advance notice of the decision to publish these pictures by their management and we are consulting with our lawyers as a matter of urgency over what we believe to be a serious breach of their contract.

"Northern and Shell is profoundly dismayed at the decision made by Irish Daily Star, which would never have been made by any of the newspapers or magazines under our editorial control.

"We consider all aspects of privacy very carefully, and would never condone this action.

"When the recent pictures of Prince Harry were made available to UK newspapers, even though that was a very different and more public situation, we felt that there was no public interest in publishing those images.

"This is of course a far more distressing situation and while it has nothing to do with the Daily Star UK or any of Northern and Shell's own newspapers, we very much regret the distress it has caused."

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