Daily Mail picture editor grilled at Leveson Inquiry
Marta Cooper:
11 Jan 12

The picture editor of the Daily Mail faced a tough grilling over the paper’s policy of photographing celebrities and their families at the Leveson Inquiry.

Pressed on the the paper’s seeking a photo Hugh Grant and the mother of his child soon after the baby’s birth, Paul Silva said there was no suggestion from the press release at the time that there was a privacy issue.

“It was a major showbiz story of great interest to our readers,” Silva said, adding that the paper sought a posed photo of the new family, as it had done with David Cameron after the birth of his daughter.

When asked by Robert Jay QC whether or not he should have sought Grant’s permission beforehand, Silva defended his paper’s policy. “A story breaks, we then go to their home, we ask them to pose up, if they say no we’ll move on and go away.”

Silva agreed with a celebrity asking for privacy for their children, and that he “would go along with whatever they ask”. He said it was the paper’s policy that images of children would be pixellated, and when asked by Lord Justice Leveson whether it was questionable that photographers should be taking such pictures in the first place, he responded, “possibly, yes.”

Asked why he used unblurred pictures of the McCanns’ children, Silva responded that there was no objection at the time. “It was the most intense story I’ve ever worked on,” he said, adding that in hindsight he “possibly” should not have used the pictures.

Gerry and Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine went missing in Portugal in May 2007, gave their testimony of alleged press intrusion to the Inquiry in November, detailing how journalists had camped outside their Leicestershire home upon their return to the UK.

Silva also clarified that he only deals with pictures for the newspaper, not for its website, Mail Online. Asked about photos on the website of actress Sandra Bullock trying to shield her child from photographers, he conceded, “if that was a British celebrity taken in a British park we’d be asking a lot of questions.”

He added that the Mail’s picture desk receives 300-400 photographs daily of the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa Middleton, but there was “no justification” in using them.

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