Lifestyle & Belief

Kate Middleton topless: French court blocks photos, launches criminal probe


From the Closer magazine's website.

PARIS, France — A French court has upheld an injunction blocking the resale and republication of topless photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, sunbathing on a balcony while on holiday in Provence, Agence France Presse reported.

The decision by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre, just outside Paris, prevents the magazine Closer, which first published the pictures, from reproducing them either in print form, or on its website or tablet applications.

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Closer on Friday published 14 images of Kate, in her swimsuit – several minus her bikini top – with husband Prince William, at a secluded chateau in Provence last month.

The case has reawakened debate on strict privacy laws in France. In part, it centers on just how secluded the chateau was – and whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a reasonable expectation of privacy, Radio France Internationale reported.

Separately, a preliminary criminal complaint has also been opened to investigate whether charges can be laid against the publisher of Closer, the editor who took the decision to publish the photos, and the photographer, whose identity has not been revealed.

Aurelien Hamelle, the Paris lawyer for the royal couple, told the court the photos breached the pair’s privacy, as the balcony could not be seen from the outside. But lawyers for Closer contested this, saying the balcony was visible from a nearby road.

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Hamelle said a photographer using an extremely long lens had intruded on a private moment. Although the pictures are grainy, there's no doubting the identity of the royal couple.

Buckingham Palace is also seeking damages from Closer's publisher, the Italian company Mondadori, owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the Associated Press reported.

Mondadori also publishes the Italian gossip magazine Chi which, despite threats of legal action, yesterday printed a 26-page special edition dedicated to the photos. Its editor, Alfonso Signorini, defended the images, saying they were harmless, and in good taste.

Hamelle said the royals are seeking €5,000 in damages from Closer, the AP reported. He also asked the court to fine Closer €10,000 a day for each day the injunction is not respected, and a further €100,000 if the photos are sold in France or abroad.

The the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are currently on the final day of a tour of the Solomon Islands, in the Pacific.

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