Sun editor Dominic Mohan is expected to be questioned about the tabloid’s daily use of topless models when he reappears before an inquiry into press standards later this week.
The move follows evidence from four women’s groups who argued that papers such as the Sun should ban “sexualised images” which would not be shown on television before the 9pm watershed.
Mr Mohan has already appeared before the Leveson inquiry but now he has been recalled for more questioning – with News International expecting him to be asked about the paper’s use of glamour models.
Suvi Ramu, of Object – a group which campaigns against the objectification of women – hailed the recall as “groundbreaking”.
She said: “None of the editors who use these images have ever been questioned or challenged at this type of level before.”
And Holly Dustin, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said it was “highly significant” that the editor of the Sun was going to be questioned about the “routine sexualisation and objectification of women” at a judicial inquiry.
“This signals a breakthrough in the way in which we as a society are beginning to understand the impact of women’s treatment in the media and reflects the broader concerns being raised by women’s groups and MPs, amongst others” she said.
The Sun has been publishing photographs of topless women on page 3 since November 1970.
Former Labour MP Clare Short tried and failed to introduce a private member’s bill to ban the feature back in 1986.
She said: “The presentations to Leveson were very considered, serious and sensible.
“The bottom line here is that pictures that would not be permissible in the workplace or on broadcast media before the watershed can still be published in a daily newspaper.”
Last year research in America showed that highly sexualised images of women in the media have soared in recent years and they are becoming increasingly explicit.
Images of women on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine were 89 per cent more likely to be sexualised or ‘pornified’ in the 2000s than in the 1960s, the study by the University of Buffalo revealed.