It has been reported by France’s Le Point that Closer magazine‘s headquarters have been raided by police this morning looking for details as to who supplied the outlet with nude images of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
The report comes less than a day after a French court mandated the journal to cease further production of the images as well demanding that it remove said images from its digital website. At present the journal risks being fined $13 000 for every day the images still exist.
huffpo: A court in Nanterre, near Paris, has now opened a separate criminal investigation into charges that Closer and a photographer breached the privacy of the duke and duchess by publishing the topless photos.
In the criminal suit, the magazine could be fined up to €45,000 (£36,000) and the editor, Laurence Pieau, could be jailed for up to a year.
That said not everyone is of the opinion that the royal couple should proceed with criminal charges (this author included) as it risks alienating public opinion against the couple, never mind what it suggests for the liberty of the media to have the confidence to express ideas or publish stories that may sit uncomfortably with powerful interests for fear of being brought to a criminal court.
Media law expert David Banks offered this as well:
“I think it’s a very dangerous path indeed if it comes out that a member of a European Royal Family is pursuing a reporter or journalist in order to imprison them. It will not play well with public opinion outside the UK.”
And via the dailymai: Christophe Bigot, a barrister who specialises in media law, immediately questioned the legality of the raid – suggesting that it had solely been authoritised because members of the Royal Family were involved.
Journalistic sources – who include photographers – are strictly protected by French law, which was tightened up as recently as two years ago.
‘A law of January 2, 2010 protects the confidentiality of sources, as do numerous decisions of the European Court of Human Rights,’ said Mr Bigot.
French journalists Peter Allen has also weighed in with his concerns, see tweets below.
At present French law protects journals from having to disclose their sources. That said it has been thought that French photographer Valerie Suau who has gone into hiding recentlyand who took down her Facebook profile may be the photographer involved as she already had images of Kate Middleton (wearing a bikini) published in a regional journal the same day photos of her appeared in a national tabloid where one suspects she would have received a far princelier sum than had she sold them to the regional La Provence.