Is it just that Pauline Hanson is somehow fairer game?

Can you imagine a situation where 30-year-old nude photographs, of, let’s see, Peter Costello, were presented to a Sunday newspaper editor and that editor, without having actually contacted Costello, saw fit to publish them?

That’s what happened to Pauline at the hands of the Sunday Telegraph and the Sunday Herald Sun. And the story had legs. Here are the latest Media Monitors mention figures for the past 48 hours:






Pauline Hanson






Hanson has now issued a simple denial.

As Fairfax websites report today: “I’m amazed, I’m disgusted, I’m baffled,” Ms Hanson said. “Yesterday I’m walking around [campaigning] and everyone’s looking at me like I’ve got no clothes on. This has been terribly embarrassing for me… but it’s not me.”

She told a press conference this morning: “I’ve had enough. The truth is that is not me in those photos.”

“It’s not me” — where would that have left Sunday Telegraph editor Neil Breen if his staff had managed to make contact with Ms Hanson prior to publication?

As it was, Breen claims to have made to most stringent tests of authenticity possible, as you would having paid $15,000 for the merchandise:

“I knew on Saturday when I had those photos … that if I published something like that and they were wrong then I’m in huge trouble,” he told a Fairfax reporter. “We put the images through a thing called Photoshop … I had those photos stripped back as far as you could strip them back, and had our experts looking at them. You can see changes in the pixels … if they’ve been doctored.”

They might not have been doctored, Neil, but were they of the person you claimed was the subject?

Ms Hanson says that her soliticitors have commenced proceedings with News Limited, Channels Nine and Seven today.

News Limited bloggers are divided on the story, after a lame defence of the Sunday publication by the Herald Sun‘s Robyn Riley at the weekend, claiming publication of three-decade-old nudes was somehow in the “public interest”:

PAULINE Hanson may argue it is an invasion of her privacy for the Sunday Herald Sun to publish explicit photographs taken of her when she was a teenager.

The independent candidate for Beaudesert may say it was a mistake made in her youth and she should not be held accountable.

But she is wrong.

Ms Hanson, 54, is a public figure.

Public people are public property whether they like it or not.

If Ms Hanson expects to be elected at this month’s Queensland elections to represent the people in the seat of Beaudesert, then her ideals, opinions, behaviour and beliefs must be scrutinised.

People have a right to know the type of person they are being asked to endorse.

Well, here she is, in today’s Sunday Herald Sun.

The Telegraph‘s Tim Blair and the Herald Sun‘s Andrew Bolt have taken a counter position.

As Bolt argues:

I don’t think this breach of Pauline Hanson’s privacy — and this disgraceful betrayal by a former lover — will cost her a single vote. The worse that Hanson is treated, the more her support rises. And fair enough. The flogging of Hanson has always been the real insight she’s offered into politics in this country.

And Blair:

Publication of the pictures — in both the Sunday Herald Sun and the Sunday Telegraph — was wrong to the point of indefensibility.

How all this stands in light of Ms Hanson’s point blank denial must be causing some deep unease at News Limited.

Her legal action, if it is indeed underway, may not be quite so clear cut as it first appears. According to one defamation law expert this morning, “It’s outrageous if the photos were not her, but whether it’s defamatory is another thing.

“It’s hard to see what sort of defamatory imputation you could get out of this.”