Let’s play newspaper news editors.
The Daily Mail – along with others – is carrying for what any newsroom – tabloid or broadsheet – is a cracking ‘Brits abroad’ story.
A British husband and wife are making love in the public stairwell of the building of their Tenerife holiday flat when she topples over the banister.
The woman is saved from serious harm by catching her leg in the railings of the stairwell though she sustains a broken ankle.
Several elements appeal. The fact the woman is 49 is as saucy as that she was left dangling in the nude.
Agency stories about roistering British youngsters on holiday - ranging from flashing in front of outraged locals to drunkenly falling to their death - are common.
It’s much more unusual for a middle-aged couple to be found in flagrante – and married to each other.
The report had the benefit the woman survived and therefore allowed the story to be given a lighter treatment; hence the repeated ‘joke’ about the necessity to practice “safe sex” in the future.
Online versions of the article have attracted hundreds of often ribald comments from readers, which testify to the appeal of the tale.
Only two elements are missing from the reports – the couple’s names and their picture.
So in the middle of the Leveson inquiry into press ethics does a news editor chase the story – especially getting a picture of the amorous pair?
These are private people and there can be no public interest defence in their misadventure that would justify revealing their identities.
But my guess is exposure – maybe ridicule, maybe admiration – is inevitable.
The couple will be the target of some modest chequebook journalism and if they don’t sell their story their personal details will leak anyway.
Readers have a prurient interest in smut which I hope Lord Leveson considers when he comes to his conclusions. Feeding this appetite, however unappealing, sells newspapers. And survival is the No. 1 rule of the jungle.