French President Hollande's ex-partner wins privacy case over bikini snaps

Ms Valerie Trierweiler, the former partner of French President Francois Hollande, on Thursday, March 6, 2014, won a privacy suit she launched over pictures of her recovering from their break-up on a tropical beach. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Ms Valerie Trierweiler, the former partner of French President Francois Hollande, on Thursday, March 6, 2014, won a privacy suit she launched over pictures of her recovering from their break-up on a tropical beach. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

NANTERRE, France (AFP) - Ms Valerie Trierweiler, the former partner of French President Francois Hollande, on Thursday won a privacy suit she launched over pictures of her recovering from their break-up on a tropical beach.

A court at Nanterre in the Paris suburbs ordered weekly glossy Closer to pay the former first lady 12,000 euros (S$21,000 dollars) in damages plus interest for breaching her right to privacy.

The award was less than a quarter of the maximum 50,000 euros her lawyers had demanded.

The magazine, whose revelations of Mr Hollande's affair with an actress triggered the split, must also publish the legal judgement on its front page.

The offending article detailed how Ms Trierweiler, 48, had jetted off to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius days after Hollande publicly dumped her.

The four-page spread was accompanied by pictures of Ms Trierweiler and two girlfriends in their swimwear.

"The hurt caused is all the greater because the article capitalised on the difficult period that (Trierweiler) was going through," the court ruling said.

"The number of photographs taken, obviously with a telephoto lens, suggest she was subject to intrusive surveillance by a photographer."

By coincidence, the Trierweiler ruling was announced on the day that the actress who had an affair with Hollande, Julie Gayet, brought her own privacy suit against Closer.

Ms Gayet, 41, is also seeking 50,000 euros in compensation, as well as 4,000 euros in legal costs.

Closer made waves in early January by publishing photographs of Mr Hollande arriving on a scooter at an apartment near the Elysee presidential palace.

The magazine said the 59-year-old president was a regular visitor to the flat, borrowed from a friend of Ms Gayet's, for trysts with the actress, with whom he had been having an on-off affair for over two years.

Ms Gayet has also pressed criminal charges against a photographer who took snaps of her in her car, which Closer published on January 17.

Under French law, the inside of a car is considered to be a private space and subject to the country's strict privacy laws.

Mr Hollande split with longtime partner Trierweiler following the scandal but has refused to say whether he is still seeing Ms Gayet.

"It's a classic case of violation of privacy and we will present the case as such," Ms Gayet's lawyer Jean Enocchi told AFP.

Ms Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, defended her scoop, saying the affair was the talk of the town already and discussed at dinner parties.

"We did our job as journalists in correctly informing the public about something they had a right to know," she said.

Ms Gayet, who has been lying low since the scandal, was not due in court.

She made her first public appearance since the scandal broke last Friday, when she attended the ceremony for the Cesars, the French Oscars.

Ms Gayet was nominated for best supporting actress - ironically for a role as a seductive foreign ministry official called Valerie. She did not win.

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