Photos ‘a shocking breach of personal intimacy’, French court told

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were said to be “profoundly shocked and troubled” by the topless photographs of the duchess taken while they were on holiday in France.

Note: This article is from the Guardian.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Topless photos ‘a shocking breach of personal intimacy’, French court told” was written by Kim Willsher in Nanterre and Lisa O’Carroll, for The Guardian on Monday 17th September 2012 20.38 UTC

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were said to be “profoundly shocked and troubled” by the topless photographs of the duchess taken while they were on holiday in France, a French court has heard.

It was, their lawyer said, a shocking breach of their “personal intimacy” that the photographs were taken of them in a private place and published on the front cover of a French magazine. And he reminded the court that the pictures of the young couple were taken almost 15 years to the day since the “cynical, morbid and useless” chase that led to the death of the duke’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

The legal clashes in France between lawyers for the royal couple and the magazine that published the photographs came as the fallout from the scandal resulted in the suspension of the editor of an Irish tabloid newspaper, which also printed the images.

Michael O’Kane was suspended while an internal investigation is carried out into the decision to run the images in the Irish Daily Star, which is co-owned by media baron Richard Desmond’s Northern and Shell group and the Irish-based Independent News and Media, and has been under threat of closure since publishing the pictures.

The country’s justice minister said he would revisit privacy legislation, a move that could spell the death knell for the days of self-regulation of newspapers in Ireland.

In a strongly worded statement on Monday afternoon, Alan Shatter said he was going to return to Ireland’s 2006 Privacy Act to “consider what changes should be made” and then “progress its enactment”. He added that despite the existence of a press regulator “some sections of the print media are either unable or unwilling in their reportage to distinguish between ‘prurient interest’ and ‘the public interest’”.

The threat is a blow to the Irish newspaper industry, which battled to stave off statutory regulation in 2003 and in the end successfully negotiated with the government to set up a regulatory system based around the independent Irish press council and a press ombudsman. Appearing for the royal couple, lawyer Aurélien Hamelle told the court at Nanterre in the Paris suburbs that he was acting for William Arthur Mountbatten Windsor and his wife, Catherine Middleton.

He described the photographs as portraying the “profoundly intimate life of the couple”, and asked: “In what name did this magazine publish these shocking photos … It was certainly not in the name of information. This has no place on the cover of a magazine or even in an article in a magazine.”

He said that the couple “had not consented to and had absolutely no knowledge that the photographs were being taken.

“It was a holiday place, a private house, and the duke and duchess had a right to be there out of the public eye. They could not be seen by the naked eye by someone passing, they could only be seen by a [camera] lens, and that is the problem.

“The photographs were taken on 5 September 2012, which was, give or take, six days, the 15th anniversary of the cynical, morbid and useless chase that led to the death of Prince William’s mother.”

Hamelle showed anger as he described how Closer magazine had crowed about its “scoop” and had been publicly proud of it. He said the magazine editor had even tweeted: “Catherine Middleton as you have never seen her and you will never see her again.”

“They [Closer] were aware of the illegal character of the photos. The knew how the princess and Prince William would react to having their intimacy violated.”

He added: “The magazine said it’s an ordinary scene and millions of women every day go on beaches wearing only their bikini bottoms. They say this is a woman’s liberty. To impose this on a woman who did not want it is not progress or a sign of modernity. It’s a regression and profoundly shocking.”

He said the couple was seeking an injunction preventing Closer magazine from printing any more copies of the offending issue, to remove the photographs from its website and not to distribute the photographs to any other publications.

He also demanded that the magazine hand over the electronic files for the original photos. He said they were not seeking to have the magazine withdrawn from kiosks and newsagents because it was “too late”.

Delphine Pando, defending Closer magazine, said the storm was a “disproportionate response” to the publication of the photographs. She said the magazine had not publicised the edition. “There was no television campaign, there was no poster campaign, there was not a single press release. Not one.” She said it was the royal couple who brought it to the headlines.

“The damage came from the direct declaration of the couple. It’s because of that all these journalists are here.”

She said that the royal couple was clearly convinced they were “sheltered from prying eyes” at their holiday residence owned by Viscount Linley, but she insisted: “They were clearly visible from the road”.Showing the three judges a copy of the Daily Mail, she added: “It is incontestable that the scene was visible from the road and this has caused a debate in England over security.”

She said Closer had no intention of republishing the photographs but the magazine had no control over the agency which had them and the asked the judge to throw out the case.

When she had finished, Hamelle leapt to his feet, clearly very angry, and said: “It is scandalous to suggest that this couple was responsible for the damage caused. Where is the morality in that?

“We and Closer obviously don’t have the same values.”

The duke and duchess have asked for the injunction order to be accompanied by a warning that the magazine would be fined €10,000 (£8,000) for every day that it did not comply with an injunction and fined €100,000 if it tried to resell the photographs. The judges will rule on the case on Tuesday at lunchtime.

The couple have launched a separate criminal lawsuit in France for violation of their privacy.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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2 thoughts on “Photos ‘a shocking breach of personal intimacy’, French court told

  1. Perhaps the royals should hire their own paparazzi to follow those invading their privacy–and publish embarrassing photos of them–to give them a taste of their own medicine!

  2. I am disgusted with the attempt at rationalization–not justification–to excuse the very bad behaviour of those whose motives are simply to gain financially. Shame on you!

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