Magazine executives, photographers ordered to pay fines in trial over topless photos of Princess Kate

The photos were taken while Kate was on vacation with Prince William.

September 5, 2017, 12:33 PM

— -- A French court has convicted six people of complicity and breach of privacy over long lens photographs taken of Princess Kate sunbathing while on vacation with Prince William in 2012.

France's Closer Magazine was fined 100,000 euros by a Paris court today after it ruled the magazine had breached William's and Kate's privacy.

The magazine published the topless photos of Kate -- taken as she and William vacationed at a private chateau in the south of France in September 2012 -- while William and Kate were on a royal tour of the Far East and South Pacific that same month.

A second publication, La Provence newspaper, was fined 3,000 euros for publishing images of Kate in her bathing suit.

The six defendants -- three executives and three photographers -- who went on trial in May at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nanterre were all found guilty of criminal charges.

Ernesto Mauri, the chief executive of the Mondadori Group, which publishes Closer, and Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer magazine in France, were each fined 45,000 euros.

Marc Auburtin, La Provence’s publishing director at the time, received a suspended fine of 1,500 euros.

A photographer from La Provence and two agency photographers were also ordered to pay fines ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 euros.

A lawyer for Closer magazine, Paul-Albert Iweins, called the fines “exaggerated,” according to The Associated Press.

The six defendants were also ordered to contribute to William's and Kate's legal fees.

William and Kate, both 35, did not attend Tuesday’s hearing but a spokesperson issued a statement after the verdict.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are pleased that the court has found in their favour and the matter is now closed,” a Kensington Palace spokesperson said. “This incident was a serious breach of privacy, and Their Royal Highnesses felt it essential to pursue all legal remedies. They wished to make the point strongly that this kind of unjustified intrusion should not happen.”

The topless photos, which appeared on the front and inside the cover of Closer Magazine in September 2012, were ordered almost immediately to be removed online.

In a statement read by William's and Kate's French lawyer at the court proceedings in Nanterre, France, in May, William called the invasion of privacy by French paparazzi "particularly shocking" and "all the more painful" given the harassment of his mother, the late Princess Diana, by other paparazzi.

Diana died in August 1997 from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris' Pont d'Alma. The car the late princess was riding in crashed while being chased at high speed by photographers while leaving the Ritz Hotel with Dodi al Fayed.

In a damning indictment of the actions by the French press, William said in his statement that the photographs, “reminded us of the harassment that led to the death of my mother, Diana Princess of Wales."

The photographs of Kate were shot with a telephoto lens from several miles away. The most intimate shots showed Kate bathing topless on a private terrace on the estate and William putting sunscreen on his wife. The photographs were published in Closer magazine and its sister publication, the Italian magazine Chi, and several other outlets as well as online.

The palace immediately filed a claim in the French courts after their publication.

French authorities, who banned further use of the photographs, say they tracked the photographers down by tracing hotel and phone records of those who were staying near the chateau where William and Kate vacationed. The photographers have denied taking the photos.

The lawyers for William and Kate had demanded fines in the amount of 1.5 million euros.

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