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French court to rule on Kate topless photos

A French court is to rule at noon today on a request to halt further publication of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge.

The royal couple say they are an invasion of their privacy.

The court at Nanterre, Paris, heard arguments yesterday by lawyers for the Duke and Duchess and for the Italian publishing house which owns the popular French gossip magazine Closer.

The royal request was made after Closer printed 14 pictures of the partially-clad Kate in its pages last week.

Yesterday, the Italian gossip magazine Chi - also owned by Mondadori, the publishing house owned by former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi - published a 26-page spread of photos of Kate without her swimsuit top.

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

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

The royal couple's lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, told the French court that he is seeking 5,000 euro (£4,034) in damages from Closer and an injunction forcing the magazine to stop publishing the issue with the photos.

He also asked the court to fine Closer 10,000 euro (£8,600) a day for each day the injunction is not respected, and 100,000 (£80,600) if the photos are sold.

Mondadori lawyer Delphine Pando told the court that the photos are not theirs to sell.

"We are not the owners of these photos," she said. "The photos are out there. If a TV show wants to show an image of this (magazine) edition, it's got nothing to do with us."

That argument echoed the stance of the editor of Chi, the Italian magazine. Alfonso Signorini told The Associated Press over the weekend that he did not fear legal action since the photos are already in the public domain following Closer's publication.

In addition to the injunction demand, St James's Palace said yesterday the family lawyers would file a criminal complaint against the unidentified photographer or photographers involved. The palace said it would be up to French prosecutors to decide whether to investigate and pursue a criminal case for breach of privacy or trespassing.

That second judicial action was not mentioned in today's proceedings, and there was no mention of the name of the photographer or photographers who took the offending pictures. There was only reference to an "agency."

Meanwhile, in the Irish Republic, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said Monday that the country planned to introduce new privacy laws after the Irish Daily Star newspaper published the topless photographs of the princess.

Belfast Telegraph


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