Closer magazine guilty: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge win 100K Euro payout over Kate Middleton topless photos. Defining rights of privacy.
A Paris court has ordered French celebrity magazine, Closer to pay 103,000 euros in damages for their part in publishing topless photos of Kate Middleton.
The judgement comes as Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge took exception to what the described as an ‘invasion of their privacy’ while holidaying in Provence, France, September, 2012.
At the time of appearing in Closer, the editors released the images with the cover caption, “Oh My God [in English]: the photos that will go around the world”.
The payout to be paid directly to the royals, is a fraction of the £1.4million ($1.8 million USD) lawyers for the couple had demanded.
Reprimanded were Closer’s editor, Laurence Piea, 51 and Ernest Mauria, 71, the director of the Mondadori group which publishes Closer, were fined £42,000 (€45,000 euros) each. Both could have been sent to prison for up to a year, but retained their freedom reported the dailymail.
Responding to the payout, Closer magazine’s lawyer Paul-Albert Iweins said he was ‘pleased’ with the ruling on the damages to pay, but said 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 financial judgement comes as the royals claimed that their privacy was grossly invaded by the use of long lens cameras at the hands of ‘paparazzi photographers’ who snapped images of Kate Middleton while only wearing a pair of bikini bottoms.
The angry couple considered £1.4million (€1.5million euro) from French Closer magazine appropriate compensation for ‘the upset and embarrassment’ caused by the photographs being distributed around the word.
The couple had also sought the equivalent of £42,000 (€50,000 euros) from the local newspaper La Provence, which first published pictures of the Duchess in her swimwear five years ago today.
Closer Magazine guilty: When does a public citizen cease to be a public person?
Neither of the Royals attended any of the court sessions over the years, albeit Prince William has presented statements attacking the paparazzi.
In one written in May, he said the impact of the topless photographs were ‘all the more painful’ given the harassment linked to the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
Also implicated in the judgement regarding the Kate Middleton topless photos were agency photographers Cyril Moreau, 32, and Dominique Jacovides, 59, and Valerie Suau, 53, of La Provence, who were accused of invading privacy and complicity.
A sixth defendant, Marc Auburtin, was identified as the 57-year-old publishing director of La Provence at the time the pictures were taken.
Moreau and Jacovides were fined £4500 (€5000) each, with half the amount suspended for two years. Both denied ever taking the topless pictures.
Suau was fined just over £900 (€1000), while Auburtin was told to pay £2750 (€3000) compensation directly to the Royal Couple.
Following their appearance in Closer, the French authorities supported the Royal Family by banning any further reproduction of the pictures, before launching an investigation into how they were obtained.
All of the six defendants argued that the Royal couple regularly allow their private lives to be sold to millions of people around the world.
Paul-Albert Iweins, for Closer, said they were sunbathing in full public view, and that the images showed them ‘in a positive light’.
Closer magazine guilty over Kate Middleton topless photos guilty judgement: how much is too much?
The debate of whether the contravening images went beyond the privacy of Kate Middleton centered on the argument at what point did celebrity and public figures whose value and influence is heavily dependent on mass media is fair game for public use and off limits.
Which is to wonder, are paparazzi to be banned from taking pictures of famous individuals when they are ‘not openly courting the press’ and in private mode? This despite their 24/7 status as public figures? Or to broaden the argument, are public figures only fair game only ‘when they can’ control and influence their public image and not what or when the media decide a topic is worth investigating or portraying?
Today’s judgement, which was handed down by presiding judge Florence Lasserre-Jeannin, came a day after it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her third child.