Criminal investigation opened, injunction granted over topless photos of Kate
It can't wipe out what's done, but Will and Kate won two legal battles on Tuesday over topless photos of the Duchess.
First, a French court opened a criminal investigation into charges that their right to privacy was breached by photographers and France’s Closer magazine. Then, an injunction was granted stopping Closer from republishing the photos and ordering the magazine turn over all its digital photos of the royal couple -- (seen at right arriving in Tuvalu on Tuesday) -- as they sunbathed at a French chateau.
In granting the injunction, the court ruled that the magazine will be fined $12,700 (Canadian) per day if it publishes any more photographs following the judgment or transmits them to any third party via email or any other means. The magazine's publisher, Mondadori, will also have to pay $2,500 towards legal fees.
Meanwhile, the court outside Paris said it would investigate whether there are grounds for criminal charges against Closer and the as-yet-unidentified-paparazzi who took pictures of the Duchess while she sunbathed topless with Prince William on Sept. 5 at the villa in southern France.
If found guilty, Closer could be fined up to $57,000 and the editor jailed up to a year. The fines for invasion of privacy are acknowledged by experts as tiny compared to the profits publications reap from the offending photos.
The injunction placed on Closer will have no effect on the photos already in circulation. The Italian magazine Chi hit newsstands on Monday with a 26-page section on Will and Kate's vacation at a French chateau two weeks ago. Over the weekend, the Irish Daily Star had reprinted the Closer photos as well, adding to the collection that has been circulated on the internet.
Copies of Closer were being also being sold on Britain's eBay site for as much as $50. Later, eBay said they were removing the magazines "following strong feedback from the eBay community."
"These snapshots which showed the intimacy of a couple, partially naked on the terrace of a private home, surrounded by a park several hundred metres from a public road, and being able to legitimately assume that they are protected from passers-by, are by nature particularly intrusive," the court ruling said.
"(The Duke and Duchess) were thus subjected to this brutal display the moment the cover appeared."
A spokesperson for the royal couple said they "welcome the judge's ruling."
A royal source told London's Daily Mirror that while Will and Kate accept that they can't undo the events that led to the photos, they are determined to do more than grin and bear it.
“They have had to accept they cannot stop the world from seeing these images and are asking the public to regulate themselves with common sense," the source told the paper.
“But they are determined to take what action they can. The purpose is to seek redress and send the message that they will not tolerate this. Our focus is on bringing the people we can to account. We will find this photographer.”
In the courtroom Monday, the couple's lawyer, Aurélien Hamelle (right), talked about how "shocked and troubled" they were when learning of the photos. How there "personal intimacy" had been invaded.
"In what name did this magazine publish these shocking photos … It was certainly not in the name of information," he said. "This has no place on the cover of a magazine or even in an article in a magazine."
Hamelle showed flashes of anger in the courtroom and lashed out at Closer for bragging about its "scoop."
"The magazine said it's an ordinary scene and millions of women every day go on beaches wearing only their bikini bottoms," he said. "They say this is a woman's liberty. To impose this on a woman who did not want it is not progress or a sign of modernity. It's a regression and profoundly shocking."
"The damage came from the direct declaration of the couple," she said. "It's because of that all these journalists are here."
Pando also pointed out that while the couple may have thought they were protected from "prying eyes," they were "clearly visible from the road."
She noted that Closer had no plans to republish the photos, but had no say in the affairs of the agency which owns the pictures.
An angry Hamelle quickly responded to her remarks. "It is scandalous to suggest that this couple was responsible for the damage caused. Where is the morality in that? We and Closer obviously don't have the same values."
Meanwhile, Will and Kate are on the final leg of their royal tour of Asia and the South Pacific, spending their last full day in the tiny Commonwealth island country of Tuvalu, where about half of the 10,5000 residents came out to greet them.
In keeping with welcoming traditions, 25 men in Polynesian dress carried a homemade throne and the royal couple was carried to the tribal hall for the official ceremony of welcome called falekaupule. The couple donned native dress (including William in a mock grass skirt and Kate wearing one over her Alice Temperley dress) and danced with the natives during the ceremony with tribal chiefs.
Prince Williams and Kate get into the spirit of island dancing Tuvalu. (Getty Images)