The Irish Daily Star is to become the first publication in the British Isles to print pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless while on holiday with Prince William in France.

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The photographs will appear in the Irish edition of the newspaper, which is produced as a joint venture between Independent News and Media and Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell. St James's Palace said in response to the decision: "There can be no motivation for this action other than greed."

Mr Desmond, who is chairman of Northern & Shell, said he was "taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture."

Moves to publish come amid condemnation from St James's Palace over French magazine, Closer's publication of the photographs last week. The Palace drew comparisons with the media's hounding of Princess Diana and her death in Paris, and described the publication of the photographs as a "grotesque invasion of privacy". Lawyers for the royal couple are suing the magazine's publishers.

Northern & Shell is profoundly dismayed at the decision made by Irish Daily Star. Mimi Turner, Northern & Shell

Northern & Shell swiftly moved to distance themselves from the Irish Daily Star as reports of the pictures' publication began to emerge, saying they were considering pursuing legal action.

'Intrusive'

Mimi Turner, Group Communications Director for Northern & Shell (which owns the Star and Express titles in the UK), said the group "abhors" the decision to publish "these intrusive pictures".

"We, like St James's Palace, believe [them] to be a grotesque invasion of their privacy," she said. "The Irish Daily Star is a joint venture with Independent News & Media over which we have no editorial control. We were not given advance notive 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."

She added: "Northern & Shell is profoundly dismayed at the decision to 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."

Earlier, it emerged that an Italian magazine is set to become the second on the continent to publish photographs of Kate sunbathing topless.

The gossip magazaine, Chi, is understood to be preparing to print a 26-page photo special of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for an edition next week.

St James's Palace has not yet indicated whether it also intends to pursue legal action against Chi. A spokesperson said: "All proportionate responses will be kept under review. Any such publication would serve no purpose other than to cause further, entirely unjustifiable upset to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were enjoying time alone together in the privacy of a relative's home."

Via our Facebook page: Has there been an over-reaction to publication of the pictures?

Derek Mackie (via Facebook) Everyone deserves some level of privacy so the pictures should not have been taken and certainly not published. The subsequent reaction has been a bit excessive and we need to keep it in context.
Carl M. Bangay It's thanks to the media that so many more people (who may not have known otherwise) to search the internet for said pics. So well done for giving them more exposure.
Angela Higgins Basic human decency dictates this isn't in the public interest. Not for Kate and nor for anyone. Get the gutter press out of the gutter. It's salacious nonsense.
Simon Clew An over reaction would be torching the french and Italian embassies. Instead I think we are all just a bit sad that such apparently decent, good people get treated so poorly by the press and the lowest common denominator media.
Mark Clew Storm in an A cup.

Closer and Chi magazine are both part of the Mondadori media group, which is controlled by Fininvest, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's family holding company.

The magazine's editor, Alfonso Signori, said: "The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical. This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love."

Damages

The British edition of Closer has distanced itself from the decision made by its French counterpart, which is run by a different company.

Newspapers in the UK have been offered the photographs, but had so far unanimously condemned the decision to publish and say they will not follow suit.

It is understood that the royal couple's aim in pursuing legal action is to prevent the further use of the images, and to seek damages.

However, Laurence Peiau, the editor of Closer, was unrepentant, defending her decision to publish the pictures, saying there was "nothing degrading" about the photographs and she could not understand the couple's reaction.

The photographs were taken last week while the couple were staying in Provence at a chateau owned by Lord Linley, the Queen's nephew, ahead of their trip.

William and Kate are midway through a Diamond Jubilee tour of the Far East on behalf of the Queen. Their tour is taking in Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Herald

As images of naked Prince Harry playing "strip billiards" in Las Vegas surfaced last month, media in Ireland were among the first in the British Isles to publish before The Sun broke ranks several days into the privacy row.

Explaining their decision to publish the Prince Harry images, Ian Mallon, deputy editor of the Evening Herald, claimed English editors had short-changed their readers, saying: "This was, rightly or wrongly, the most talked-about image in the world."

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