Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Michaela pictures can't be justified

Just when it was thought that no further cruelty could be inflicted on the Harte and McAreavey families, along comes the Sunday Times of Mauritius with a final twist of the knife. With an appalling lack of humanity, the paper yesterday published pictures of Michaela McAreavey's body as she lay dead in her room. The pictures included close-up photos of the injuries that caused her death.

To abuse the dignity in death of a poor murdered girl is beneath contempt. And to heap fresh pain upon the already unbearable mountain of grief being endured by the McAreavey and Harte families is absolutely unforgiveable.

Quite frankly, the publication of these images is immoral, cynical, outrageous and repulsive.

It is hard to think how journalism could sink any lower than that on display from the French-language newspaper. The editor of that title will have to live with his decision but, for the record, no matter how he attempts to dress it up, it is, and will always remain, totally unjustifiable.

The only explanation would appear to be a cynical drive to increase circulation. Hopefully his petty stunt will backfire and the Mauritius public will vote with their feet and refuse to buy his rag.

John McAreavey's solicitor in Mauritius Dick Ng Sui Wa is absolutely correct in calling for an investigation into the leak of the pictures and in lodging complaints with the island's Director of Public Prosecutions. This was no matter in which the public interest merited publication: it was a kind of dark voyeurism of the vilest kind.

Enda Kenny and Martin McGuinness were also correct in lodging the strongest protests with the Mauritius authorities over the issue. Publication was, as Mr Kenny says, a gross invasion of human dignity and an invasion of the privacy of the two families. Authorities north and south of the border should use all diplomatic means to convey the horror of the people of Ireland at this development.

The appalling saga of the murder of Michaela, the questionable investigation and the subsequent shambolic legal proceedings show a nation that needs to move a long way before it can expect Irish and British tourists to embrace with confidence its desire to be a holiday destination.

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