French court to rule Tuesday on UK royal photos

Associated Press Modified: September 17, 2012 at 6:32 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012
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NANTERRE, France (AP) — Lawyers for Prince William and wife Kate asked a French court on Monday to block further publication of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, saying the two were sharing a deeply intimate moment caught by the snap of an intruding photographer — images that ended up last week in a popular French gossip magazine, then in publications in two other countries.

The court in Nanterre, outside Paris, said it would announce its ruling at noon Tuesday on the request to stop Closer from reproducing the images. The magazine published 14 of the images of a partially clad Kate in its pages on Friday. On Monday, an Italian magazine, Chi, Chi published a 26-page spread of the photos of Kate. . Chi, like Closer, is part of the Italian publishing house Mondadori, owned by former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

An Irish tabloid published more Kate topless photos over the weekend, drawing a vow from Ireland's justice minister to revise privacy laws there. The editor of the Irish Daily Star was suspended.

The royal couple was sharing a "healthy and profoundly intimate" moment when the photos were taken, their lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, told the court. The situation was "deeply personal."

Hamelle told the court that he is seeking €5,000 ($6,550) in damages from Closer and an injunction forcing the magazine to stop publication elsewhere, including on the Internet. He also asked the court to fine Closer €10,000 ($13,100) a day for each day the injunction is not respected, and €100,000 ($131,000) if the photos are sold in France or abroad.

The photos in question show the Duchess of Cambridge relaxing during a holiday at a private villa in Provence, in southern France, sometimes without her bathing suit top and, in one case, her suit bottom partially pulled down to apply sun screen.

William's St. James's Palace called the publications of the photos a "grotesque" invasion of the couple's privacy.

The case centers in part on just how private the villa was and whether, in effect, Kate was to some extent flaunting herself.

"It's not an accessible (view) from the exterior," Hamelle said of the site — a point contested by Closer's lawyer, Delphine Pando who said the site is visible from a nearby road.

"What is certain for her (Kate's) close family as for herself is that it's something extremely troubling," Hamelle said.

Pando, the lawyer for Closer, asked the court to throw out the royal demand, arguing that the rights to the photos belong to an agency — which sold their use to Closer. She did not give the price.

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