Hollande affair actress Julie Gayet wins privacy suit against French magazine

Actress Julie Gayet gestures as she arrives on the red carpet for the opening ceremony of the 71st Venice Film Festival in Venice on Aug 27, 2014. French actress Julie Gayet, whose affair with President Francois Hollande made headlines worldwide
Actress Julie Gayet gestures as she arrives on the red carpet for the opening ceremony of the 71st Venice Film Festival in Venice on Aug 27, 2014. French actress Julie Gayet, whose affair with President Francois Hollande made headlines worldwide, on Tuesday won a privacy case against a photographer who snapped her in her car. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NANTERRE, France (AFP) - French actress Julie Gayet, whose affair with President Francois Hollande made headlines worldwide, on Tuesday won a privacy case against a photographer who snapped her in her car.

A court in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre also fined two senior executives of French glossy magazine Closer, which splashed the photograph only a week after revealing the affair in early January.

The court handed paparazzo Laurent Viers a suspended fine of 1,000 euros (S$1,644) for taking the photo, which Closer splashed with the caption: "It's in her white Citroen that Julie Gayet meets the president."

Carmine Perna, director-general of Closer publisher Mondadori Magazines France, and the magazine's editor-in-chief Laurence Pieau both received suspended fines of 3,000 euros.

Under French law, the inside of a car is considered to be a private space.

Pieau had earlier contested this, telling the court that "for me, a car is not a private space" but refused comment after Tuesday's ruling.

"It's an important ruling," said Mr Jean Ennochi, lawyer for the 41-year-old actress, adding that it was the first time that officials from Closer had been sentenced.

Viers had previously said he was merely tracking the actress "to have some information". Ms Gayet, meanwhile, told prosecutors she "just could not shake him off".

Closer set off a political earthquake in January by publishing photographs purportedly showing Mr Hollande arriving for trysts on a scooter at an apartment near his official residence in the heart of Paris.

It claimed the affair began two years ago.

The scoop, complete with salacious details of late night trysts near the Elysee presidential palace and bodyguards being dispatched to buy croissants for the pair in the morning, saw Mr Hollande ridiculed in many newspapers globally.

The revelations also led to the break-up of the president's relationship with partner Valerie Trierweiler, for whom he left his long-time companion Segolene Royal, France's current environment minister and mother of his four children.

In March, a French court ordered Closer to pay Ms Gayet 15,000 euros in damages for breach of privacy, short of the 50,000 euros she demanded when she filed the suit.