THE Sun appears to have stopped publishing topless pin-ups on page three after 44 years.
The tabloid has faced pressure from politicians, anti-sexism campaigners and student bodies who claimed it was sexist.
No pictures of bare-chested models have been included on page three since Friday.
The Times, which has the same publisher as The Sun, reported that the tabloid decided to quietly drop the feature.
Dylan Sharpe, head of public relations for The Sun, posted an ambiguous message on Twitter last night which read: “Page 3 will be in The Sun tomorrow in the same place it’s always been - between page 2 and page 4.”
The Times obtained an extended quote from Mr Sharpe in which he said: “You can find Lucy from Warwick at Page3.com.”
Today’s edition features Hollyoaks actresses Jennifer Metcalfe and Gemma Merna running along a Dubai beach in their bikinis. Readers are advised to go online to see “Page 3 Lucy from London”.
The No More Page 3 protest group wrote a message on its Facebook page which read: “Wow ... we’re hearing The Sun may have dropped Page 3.
“This could be truly historic news and a great day for people power.
“We don’t know the details for sure and there’s still lots to be done. But this could be a huge step for challenging media sexism. And we are so incredibly grateful to all of you who stood up and said No More Page 3.”
The campaign group was founded in August 2012 by actress Lucy-Anne Holmes.
It has support from a wide variety of groups such as Girlguiding UK, Mumsnet, several trade unions including Unison, the Scottish Parliament and Breast Cancer UK.
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The protesters said they wanted the feature to be “removed voluntarily” rather than banned.
Holmes said the group would not claim victory if scantily clad women continued to appear in the paper but it was a “step in the right direction” if they were no longer topless.
She told BBC2’s Newsnight: “I’m not going to stand here and say: ‘There’s going to now be women in underwear on page three and isn’t that great.’
“The Sun could have gone: ‘OK we are going to celebrate women’s sport on page three because we never cover that and there are women doing great sport and we would like to use the space for that.’
“The Sun hasn’t suddenly decided that women say, think and do interesting and incredible things, it’s still basically saying women are here for decoration, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
The page three pin-ups were introduced by the newspaper in 1970, less than a year after Rupert Murdoch bought the title.
The News Corp boss asked his Twitter followers for their opinion on the issue last year.
He wrote: ‘’Aren’t beautiful young women more attractive in at least some fashionable clothes?’’
He went on: ‘’Brit feminists bang on forever about page 3. I bet never buy paper. I think old fashioned but readers seem to disagree.’’
The paper’s editor has defended the controversial feature in the past, saying women readers fully support it.
In 2013, David Dinsmore told BBC Radio 5 Live he was ‘’standing (his) ground’’ despite pressure from politicians, anti-sexism campaigners and student bodies.
He said: ‘’I think that it is a lively issue for people who don’t buy the paper and we’ve done the research, done the focus groups and in many ways listened to the campaigners to say: ‘What does it mean to our readers?’
‘’The result comes back a resounding ‘keep it there, don’t take it away’.’’
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