French court orders low fines in Duchess Kate topless photos case

NANTERRE, France — A French court on Tuesday fined photographers and gossip magazine executives over topless photos of Duchess Kate of Cambridge taken and published in 2012, in a royals-vs-paparazzi case that infuriated her husband, Prince William.

The court also ordered the defendants to pay damages to the duchess and her husband, but the amount was significantly lower than that sought by the royal family.

The court in a Paris suburb ruled Tuesday that three photographers and three newspaper executives invaded the privacy of the duchess, the former Kate Middleton, by taking and publishing the photos.

Two executives of French gossip magazine Closer were each given the maximum $53,500 fine for such an offense.

In addition, the two executives, along with two photographers working with a celebrity photo agency, were collectively ordered to pay $59,500 in damages to Kate, 35, and the same amount to William, 35.

The amount is far below the $1.2 million in damages sought by the royal couple. Their lawyer Jean Veil said it will be up to Kate and William to interpret the outcome.

So far, the Cambridges, celebrating the news they are expecting a third royal baby, have not commented.

Paul-Albert Iweins, lawyer for Closer magazine, called the fines exaggerated. The verdict came after a months-long trial.

The couple, who didn't attend the trial nor the verdict, had filed a complaint after the photos were published in Closer and a regional newspaper in 2012, the year after their wedding, and while they were on a 10-day tour of South Asian countries on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.  The photos were not published in Britain.

Kensington Palace officials in London condemned the invasion of the couple's privacy as "grotesque" and "unjustifiable," comparing the episode to the 1980s and 1990s when William's late mother, Princess Diana, was hounded by paparazzi, according to an official statement at the time.

Later, the couple instructed their lawyers to pursue a case in France, which has tougher privacy laws than in either the U.S. or the United Kingdom.

The pictures of Kate were taken with telephoto lenses while she and her husband were sunbathing on a patio at a private estate in France's southern Provence region during a brief holiday right before their overseas tour.

© 2017 Associated Press


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