Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Topless Duchess photos: William and Kate win legal battle - but lose war to keep snaps under wraps

France now considering criminal charges against photographer and Closer, with fines up to €225,000

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bid farewell to Tuvalu, Solomon Islands (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bid farewell to Tuvalu, Solomon Islands (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)
HONIARA, GUADALCANAL ISLAND, SOLOMON ISLANDS - SEPTEMBER 16: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge pose in traditional Island clothing as they visit the Governor General's house on their Diamond Jubilee tour of the Far East on September 16, 2012 in Honiara, Guadalcanal Island. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are on a Diamond Jubilee tour representing the Queen, taking in Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Irish Daily Star edition which published topless pictures of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
HONIARA, GUADALCANAL ISLAND, SOLOMON ISLANDS - SEPTEMBER 16: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge twatch traditional dancing as they arrive at Honiara International Airport during their Diamond Jubilee tour of the Far East on September 16, 2012 in Honiara, Guadalcanal Island. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are on a Diamond Jubilee tour representing the Queen taking in Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William, left, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge speak to each other during their visit at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley, some 70 kilometers (44 miles) west of Lahad Datu, on the island of Borneo Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohd Rasfan, Pool)
Britain's Prince William, left, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge look down on the three-hundred meter in length Canopy Walkway during their visit at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley, some 70 kilometers (44 miles) west of Lahad Datu, on the island of Borneo Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohd Rasfan, Pool)
Britain's Prince William, fourth left, and his wife Kate, fifth left, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrive at Honiara International Airport in Solomon Islands, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, as warriors in traditional dress dance around them. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Britain's Prince William, left, and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk through a bridge at the Borneo Rainforest Research Center in Danum Valley some 70 kilometers (44 miles) west of Lahad Datu, on the island of Borneo, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohd Rasfan, Pool)
Prince William, left, and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk through the rainforest in Danum Valley Research Center in Danum Valley, Sabab, Malaysia, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, Pool)
People gather on and around a caterpillar dozer as they wait on the side of the road to view Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they arrive in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Danum Valley Research Center in Danum Valley, Sabab, Malaysia, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/ Vincent Thian, Pool)
Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Danum Valley Research Center in Danum Valley, Sabab, Malaysia, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/ Vincent Thian/ Pool)
Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Danum Valley Research Center in Danum Valley, Sabab, Malaysia, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/ Vincent Thian/ Pool)
Britain's Prince William, right, and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the Borneo Rainforest Research Center in Danum Valley some 70 kilometers (44 miles) west of Lahad Datu, on the island of Borneo, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohd Rasfan, Pool)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge depart Kuala Lumpur airport for Sabah Maylasia on day 4 of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East on September 14, 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Arhtur Edwards - Pool/Getty Images)
Closer magazine front cover - at the centre of a storm over topless pictures of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) pose with four-year-old Maeve Low as they tour the Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus during the Diamond Jubilee tour at Seletar Aerospace Park on September 12, 2012 in Singapore.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is given flowers by a young girl as she attends a cultural event in Queenstown on day 2 of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East on September 12, 2012 in Singapore. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are on a Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East taking in Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and the tiny Pacific Island of Tuvalu.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge is given a gift as he attends a cultural event in Queenstown on day 2 of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East on September 12, 2012 in Singapore. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are on a Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East taking in Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and the tiny Pacific Island of Tuvalu.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge tours the Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus on day 2 of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East on September 12, 2012 in Singapore. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are on a Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East taking in Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and the tiny Pacific Island of Tuvalu.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge listen to a speech during their tour of the Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus on day 2 of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East on September 12, 2012 in Singapore. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are on a Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East taking in Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and the tiny Pacific Island of Tuvalu.
The Duchess of Cambridge meets well wishers during a visit to Queenstown in Singapore, as part of a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific, with the Duke of Cambridge, in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Prince William and his wife Kate
Britain's Prince William, left, and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012.
Britain's Prince William, left, and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their first engagement, an orchid-naming ceremony, in Singapore, as part of a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Far- R) attends the welcome ceremony on arrival at the Istana during the Diamond Jubilee tour on September 11, 2012.
The Duchess of Cambridge attends an orchid-naming ceremony during the first engagement in Singapore, as part of a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific, with the Duke of Cambridge, in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Photographers photograph an orchid named in honour of Diana, Princess of Wales at Singapore Botanical Gardens ahead of a visit by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on day 1 of their Diamond Jubilee tour on September 11, 2012 in Singapore.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge leave Singapore Botanical Gardens after a visit on day 1 of their Diamond Jubilee tour on September 11, 2012 in Singapore.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge leave Singapore Botanical Gardens after a visit on day 1 of their Diamond Jubilee tour on September 11, 2012 in Singapore.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smiles as she views an orchid named in honour of Diana, Princess of Wales at Singapore Botanical Gardens on day 1 of their Diamond Jubilee tour on September 11, 2012 in Singapore.
The Duchess of Cambridge visits a cultural fair at Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park
Pippa Middleton, the sister of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, watches a quarterfinal match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Marin Cilic of Croatia at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Kate Middleton and Prince William are married by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Spuds-u-like - Prince William and Kate Middleton as created by children's TV programme Small Potatoes (BBC)

A French court yesterday condemned as “brutal” and “particularly intrusive” the topless images of the Duchess of Cambridge published by the French version of Closer magazine last week.



Three judges ordered the magazine to end all print and electronic publication of the images and to hand over digital copies within 24 hours or face thousands of euros in fines. Closer was also ordered to pay €2,000 towards the royal couple's legal costs.



The ruling by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre was a moral victory for the Duke and Duchess - known to the court as "Monsieur et Madame Mountbatten-Windsor" - but it will be of limited practical value. The offending edition of the magazine has already sold out. The French ruling does not prevent the unidentified photographer, or the photographer's agency, from peddling the images to magazines in other countries.



More significant, perhaps, was a decision by French state prosecution service yesterday to launch a preliminary investigation into a possible criminal prosecution of the magazine and the photographer for trampling the royal couple's right to privacy. Such a case, rare in France, could flush out the identity of the man or woman who took the long-lens photos of the near-naked Duchess at a chateau (circ on first a) in Provence.



If convicted in a criminal case, the magazine's publishers would face a fine of up to €225,000 and civil damages. The photographer would face a fine of up to €45,000 plus damages. In theory, a court could also impose jail sentences but this is extremely unlikely.



In their separate civil law-suit, the Duke and Duchess were yesterday granted all aspects of the multi-layered injunction that they had asked for in a 90 minute emergency hearing on Monday night.



In a written ruling, the judges said: "These pictures showed the intimacy of a couple partially naked on the terrace of a private home surrounded by a park several hundred metres from a public road. Since they were legitimately able to assume that they were protected from passers-by, they are by nature particularly intrusive."



The couple were, the judges said, "subjected to this brutal display the moment" that Closer appeared on the streets last Friday.



The court ordered Closer to remove the images from its web-site and other electronic media and not to re-print last Friday's edition. The Duke and Duchess's lawyer, Aurelien(acute on first e) Hammelle, had not asked for the magazine to be withdrawn or pulped since it was "manifestly sold out".



The judges also ordered Closer's publishers to hand over all materials containing the images in digital form. The magazine's lawyer, Delphine Pando, said such a surrender would be pointless since the originals and the rights were owned by the photographer or the photographer's agency.



The civil case brought by the royal couple will probably go no further. Lawyers for the Duke and Duchess are expected to concentrate instead on winning a conviction and damages in the criminal action.



Although French privacy laws are theoretically tough, aggrieved French celebrities tend to sue in the civil courts and settle for damages of a few thousand euros. The Duke and Duchess have chosen the much rarer course of pushing for a criminal investigation.



This has the twin, potential advantages of revealing the name of the photographer and imposing much greater penalties on the magazine. All depends, however, on how seriously the French state prosecution service and criminal courts decide to take the case.



The fact that the Duke and Duchess are "royals" rather than mere "celebs" may not cut much ice in Republican France. The civil action was heard not in the name of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge but on behalf of "William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor and Catherine Elizabeth Middleton."

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