French magazine must pay $161k damages over topless snaps of Kate

PARIS • A French court ruled yesterday that a celebrity magazine must pay €100,000 (S$161,000) in damages to Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate over topless photos of the duchess published in 2012.

The court also ordered the editor of French magazine Closer, Mr Laurence Pieau, and publisher Ernesto Mauri to each pay €45,000 in fines, the maximum possible.

The couple had sought €1.5 million in damages and interest.

Closer magazine's lawyer Paul-Albert Iweins said he was "pleased" with the ruling on the damages, but added that the fine was "exaggerated for a simple private matter".

The royal couple's lawyer Jean Veil declined to comment, adding that Kensington Palace would make a statement.

The grainy snaps of the duchess sunbathing in a bikini bottom were taken while she was on holiday in September 2012 in the south of France with her husband, the second in line to the British throne.

The couple were snapped with a long lens relaxing by a pool at a chateau belonging to Viscount Linley, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth.

The pictures triggered a furious reaction from the royal family in Britain, where several newspapers had rejected an offer to buy the pictures.

Closer, a glossy gossip magazine, was the first to splash them on its cover, and they were later reproduced in several other European publications, including Chi in Italy and Ireland's Daily Star.

The royals - who announced on Monday that they are expecting a third child - filed a criminal complaint for invasion of privacy and obtained an injunction preventing further use of the images.

In a letter read out in court, Prince William said the case reminded him of the paparazzi hounding of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris 20 years ago.

Additionally, two Paris-based agency photographers were each given fines of €10,000, with €5,000 suspended.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'French magazine must pay $161k damages over topless snaps of Kate'. Print Edition | Subscribe