French court to rule on Kate topless snaps

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PARIS: A French court will rule Tuesday on whether a French celebrity magazine should pay 1.5 million euros ($1.8 million) in damages sought by Prince William and his wife Kate for topless photos published of the duchess in 2012.

The grainy snaps of Kate Middleton sunbathing in a bikini bottom were taken while she was on holiday in September 2012 in the south of France with her husband, the second-in-line to the British throne.

The couple were snapped with a long lens relaxing by a pool at a chateau belonging to Viscount Linley, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth.

The pictures triggered a furious reaction from the royal family in Britain, where several newspapers had rejected an offer to buy the pictures.

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Closer, a glossy gossip magazine, was the first to splash them on its cover, and they were later reproduced in several other European publications, including Chi in Italy and Ireland’s Daily Star.

The royals — who announced Monday they are expecting a third child — filed a criminal complaint for invasion of privacy and obtained an injunction preventing further use of the images.

In a letter read out in court, William said the case reminded him of the paparazzi hounding of his mother, the late princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris 20 years ago.

Four people have been charged over the pictures, including two Paris-based agency photographers. They face a maximum of one year in prison and a personal fine of 45,000 euros, while the court can also award damages.

The prosecution called for “very heavy” fines for the editor of Closer in France and the head of the Mondadori group, which owns the magazine.

The royals joined the case as civil plaintiffs.

During the trial, Closer’s lawyers argued that the pictures were in the public interest and conveyed a “positive image” of the royals.

The court will also rule on a complaint against the Marseille-based La Provence newspaper, which printed a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge in a two-piece bathing costume at the same chateau a week before the Closer photos.

For that picture, the prosecution has called for the paper’s publisher and the photographer to be given suspended fines, while William and Kate are seeking 50,000 euros in damages. AFP

AFP/CC

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