The Sun basks in Triumph over Queen 'Nazi' Salute Scoop - But how will the search for the source play out?

Chris Boffey is a former news editor of the Observer, Sunday Telegraph and the Mirror and onetime special adviser to the Labour government.

The Sun's triumph in publishing pictures of the Royal Family giving Nazi salutes has already been compounded by the hunt for the source of the 80-year-old tape and the story will grow even more legs if the authorities go down the misguided route of calling in the police.

If there is an issue about ownership, it will be down to the civil matter of copyright and not theft, but that may not stop the Palace demanding a police investigation.

The Sun has recent form for giving up paid sources but this seven-page, old-fashioned scoop will have been the subject of meetings with in-house lawyers for some time and outside counsel will probably have been asked to advise on the chances of legal action.

Who would have thought that a picture eight decades old would have led a tabloid newspaper, been the lead item on the BBC's Today programme and followed up by every Sunday paper, tabloid or quality and what's more be a guaranteed a money spinner for the Sun. For along with the prestige comes the spike in sales and whatever they paid for the tape will be returned many times over in syndication fees as magazines all over the world buy the pictures.

The Palace helped, of course, with its immediate pursed lips condemnation when it should have consulted a historian and released a statement saying that aping Hitler and clowning around with silly moustaches and salutes was a common phenomena in the early 1930s.

Luckily for the Sun, the then Prince of Wales, who dabbled with Hitler after his abdication, is in the frames along with the young Princess Elizabeth and Margaret and the late Queen Mother giving the paper a plausible, if somewhat thin, public interest defence if they ever needed it.

Who took the video? There is only one person alive who could know and 82 years on the Queen has almost certainly no recollection. Records may show who was staying at Balmoral in 1933 but they will not nail down who was behind the camera.

So where did it come from? A leading suspect is Mohamed Fayed, the former owner of Harrods, who has had an irrational hatred of the Royal Family since 1997, believing they orchestrated the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and his son Dodi in a Paris car crash.

Fayed bought the contents of the Paris home of the Duchess of Windsor, the American divorcee who became the Queen’s aunt by marriage after Edward abdicated. She died in 1986 the and most items were auctioned in 3,200 lots. Fayed once employed Michael Coles, the former BBC Royal corespondent, as his press adviser.

When the Sun' managing editor, Stig Abell, was questioned by broadcasters he seemed relaxed, even cocky, about any investigation saying the tape had been obtained legitimately and refused to name the source of the material.

At Scotland Yard there will be a few senior detectives hoping and praying that the investigation does not land in their lap. After the hacking and paying public officials debacles the Sun might just be up to defending the right to publish.

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