Wed, Sep 19, 2012 - Page 7 News List

French court backs UK royals on topless photos

AP, NANTERRE, France

A French court ordered a magazine publisher to hand over all digital copies of topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge within 24 hours and blocked further publication of what it called a “brutal display” of William and Kate’s private moments. Under the ruling yesterday, the French gossip magazine Closer faces a daily fine of 10,000 euros (US$13,100) if it fails to hand over the photographs taken during the royals’ vacation in southern France, and cannot disseminate them any further, including on its Web site and tablet app. The magazine published 14 photographs of a partially clad Kate in its pages on Friday.

However, if the royal family had hoped to block international publication, it was too late. Publications in Ireland and Italy already went ahead with the topless photographs. Yesterday’s ruling only affects Montedori Magazines France, Closer’s publisher. The publisher also faces a 2,000 euro fine.

“These snapshots, which showed the intimacy of a couple, partially naked on the terrace of a private home, surrounded by a park several hundred meters from a public road, and being able to legitimately assume that they are protected from passers-by, are by nature particularly intrusive,” the French ruling decreed. “[They] were thus subjected to this brutal display the moment the cover appeared.”

The photographs show Prince William’s wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, relaxing at a private villa in Provence, France, sometimes without her bikini top and, in one case, her suit bottom partially pulled down to apply sunscreen.

The lawyer for Montedori failed to show up at the courthouse yesterday.

The case is the first of two legal actions by the British royals. In a reflection of just how intent they are on protecting their privacy — and likely dissuading paparazzi from future ventures — St James’ Palace has said family lawyers would be filing a criminal complaint.

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