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20 January 2015

The Sun finally ditches tradition of topless models on Page 3

The legion of critics, who have campaigned for the scrapping of Page 3, have greeted the landmark moment in the history of Fleet Street.

By Ashley Cowburn

Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor of Britain’s best-selling newspaper, the Sun, has scrapped the 44-year convention of displaying bare-breasted models on Page 3. Critics who have tirelessly campaigned for its demise and branded the photos as sexist, offensive and anachronistic have welcomed the news. 

While the Sun has not formally announced the decision, the Times, a News UK sister-paper, ran a story this morning headlined: “The Sun has got its top on… page 3 covers up after 45 years.” A spokesman for the Sun newspaper said: “Page 3 of The Sun is where it’s always been, between pages 2 and 4, and you can find Lucy from Warwick at” 

It is understood that Friday’s edition of the paper was the last to carry an image of a topless glamour model, ending a tradition that started with 20-year-old Stephanie Rahn, a German model, under the editorship of Sir Larry Lamb in November 1970. Yesterday’s Sun featured Rosie Huntington-Whiteley posing in lingerie while today’s paper carries the image of two Hollyoaks actresses in bikinis running along a beach in Dubai.

But the Sun will still run topless photographs on its website and according to the Times, the models will continue to act as “ambassadors” for events and campaigns backed by the newspaper. The Sun on Sunday has not run topless photos on its pages since it replaced the News of the World in 2010 while the Saturday edition has not published them for a number of years.

Labour MP Stella Creasy, who was one of those campaigning against Page 3, welcomed page 3’s demise and paid tribute to those who campaigned to abolish it.  Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Creasy said: “It was having an impact on our society, the sexualisation, the objectification of women in this way was basically saying to all of us that what mattered frankly were our breasts not our brains.

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“And so challenging that and saying that somehow it’s some great British institution like James Bond and moaning about the weather, that’s not the world we wanted to live in any more, that’s what been so powerful about this campaign, it’s opened up that discussion.”

Speculation that the Sun would cover up page 3 first circulated in September last year when the paper’s proprietor Rupert Murdoch hinted in a series of tweets that he’d like to get rid of the so-called institution. On Twitter, Murdoch said: “Page 3 again. Aren’t beautiful young women more attractive in at least some fashionable clothes? Your opinions please.” According to the Sun’s sister paper, the Times, the News Corp executive chairman is understood to have signed off on the change of policy.

But the campaign is far from over, the Daily Star, owned by Richard Desmond, still carries the convention of topless models on its page 3.