Britain’s best-selling tabloid has not published pictures of topless glamour models since Friday, and has reportedly decided to quietly drop the feature.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan who also holds the women and equalities brief, said the move is “long overdue”.
Morgan said: “This is a long-overdue decision and marks a small but significant step towards improving media portrayal of women and girls. I very much hope it remains permanent.”
It also received the backing of Liberal Democrat women’s and equalities minister Jo Swinson — although she criticised the decision to run pictures of two actresses in their bikinis on yesterday’s Page 3 instead. Readers were advised to go online to see a topless model, “Page 3 Lucy from London”.
Asked whether Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the apparent demise of the topless feature, his official spokesman said: “The PM always thinks that what newspapers publish is a matter for newspapers.
“It is his view that editors’ decisions are for editors.
“There is an important point around the independence of newspapers making their own publishing decisions.”
The Times reported The Sun will no longer feature topless glamour models after “quietly dropping’” the feature after 44 years.
However, the tabloid has refused to confirm the report, which its head of public relations, Dylan Sharpe, said “is all just speculation, it is all wild speculation”.
Yas Necati, from the No To Page 3 campaign group, said: “We are really glad they are doing it. I think after 44 years it is about time, really.
“When you open up The Sun, which is Britain’s biggest-selling family newspaper, you see images of men doing things — running the country, achieving in sport — whereas the most prominent image of a woman is one where she is sexually objectified.
“It gives the message that men make the news for what they do, and women for what they look like.”
However, the move sparked a backlash from glamour models, who called anti-Page 3 campaigners “no bra-wearing, man-haters” and said the move would put women out of work.
Page 3 pin-up turned bodybuilder Jodie Marsh, 36, hit out at the move in a series of angry tweets.
She said: “So-called ‘feminists’ really annoy me. Telling girls they shouldn’t do Page 3 is not being a feminist; women should do whatever they want.
“I never felt exploited — in fact the opposite. I thought ’Blimey, people are willing to pay to see my boobs’.”
“I am very much a feminist. I believe women can do it all and have it all. Women who slag off other women are just jealous and insecure.
“Women shouldn’t be fighting to be equal to men. We are there already.”
Fans of the topless feature reacted on Twitter with the hashtag ‘JeSuisPage3’, drawing comparisons between The Sun’s withdrawal of the topless feature with the jihadist murders of 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris a fortnight ago.